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Court of Appeals blocks lawsuit claiming Trump violated emoluments clause with his DC hotel


The lawsuit had been brought by the governments of Washington, D.C., and Maryland

Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked a lawsuit that accused President Donald Trump of violating the Constitution's emolument's clause with his Washington, D.C., hotel.

What is the emoluments clause?

The emoluments clause of the Constitution bars those holding elected office "from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives." This is meant to prevent U.S. officials from favoring countries or leaders

While foreign heads of state and visiting dignitaries often present the president with gifts, the president cannot take any of these with him when he leaves office. These gifts often end up in the national archives or in the presidential libraries of the presidents who received them (in which case they would be on loan from the U.S. government).

Opponents of President Donald Trump have argued that the hotel he owns in Washington, D.C., violates the emoluments clause, since foreign officials have stayed there while visiting the United States. This particular lawsuit was brought by both the District of Columbia and Maryland.

What did the court say?

The panel of three judges decided that D.C. and Maryland "lack standing" to continue with their case.

Writing the opinion, Judge Paul Neimeyer said:

The District and Maryland's interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies between the parties

Trump has weighed in

On Twitter, Trump applauded the decision. "Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt," he wrote. "Unanimous decision in my favor from The United States Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit on the ridiculous Emoluments Case. I don't make money, but lose a fortune for the honor of serving and doing a great job as your President (including accepting Zero salary!)."

Trump has made it a point to publicly donate the $400,000 salary given to U.S. presidents. It is unclear how much money he has lost or gained from his own private assets and businesses during his time in office.

There is still one more Democratic lawsuit in a federal court accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause.

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