Judge Tosses Out Trump 'Emoluments' Lawsuit

Friday, 22 Dec, 2017

President Donald Trump on Thursday escaped a constitutional showdown over the operation of his business empire, after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging he had flouted constitutional limits on benefits presidents are allowed from their financial dealings with foreign and domestic governments.

U.S. District Judge George Daniels said it was too soon for the lawsuit to be considered by the courts, particularly because Congress had not considered the issue.

Trump's refusal to divest his sprawling web of global real estate holdings and other business interests has fueled criticism that he's miring the White House in conflicts of interest.

On Thursday, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, better known as CREW, failed to convince US District Court Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of NY that Trump has violated the US Constitution the moment he was inaugurated.

The lawsuit was brought in NY by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in the first weekend of the Trump administration. He granted a motion by the Department of Justice to dismiss the case.

Judge Tosses Out Trump 'Emoluments' Lawsuit

"This case involves a conflict between Congress and the President in which this Court should not interfere unless and until Congress has asserted its authority", Daniels wrote.

"While today's ruling is a setback, we will not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation", CREW said in a statement.

CREW's argument against Trump rested on his decision not to sell his business holdings before the inauguration. Instead, the judge stated the dispute should be resolved through the "political process". The ethics group's lawyers are weighing their options, he added. That qualifies as accepting an illegal emolument, CREW said.

But Daniels said the plaintiffs failed to prove injury from the accusations. At issue was the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits USA officeholders from accepting gifts or titles from foreign governments without Congress approval.

Two similar cases against the president are still pending. Congressional Democrats sued Trump in federal court in Washington, and the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued in a federal court in Maryland.