A lawsuit that argued President Donald Trump is continuing to unfairly profit off of his businesses has been dismissed by a Manhattan judge, the New York Times reports.
The suit claimed that Trump has taken business away from independent restaurants and hotels in Washington, D.C. by hosting visiting politicians and foreign officials at the Trump International Hotel — a move that also served to line his own pockets.
The suit, originally filed by the legal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, argued that Trump profits off of government business and is therefore in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. CREW was later joined in the suit by workers lobbying group Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC), and an independent contractor who handles banquet hall booking for two D.C. hotels.
The judge “found that the plaintiffs had failed to show that they had suffered as a result of specific actions by Mr. Trump intended to drum up business for his enterprises,” the Times reports. The verdict also stated that the emoluments clause is intended to protect the nation from presidential corruption via foreign influences, rather than to protect businesses from competition from businesses owned by the president — and that it’s up to Congress, not the courts, to decide whether the president has violated the emoluments clause.
CREW says it’s weighing its options on how to consider pursuing the matter. The group released a statement attributed to executive director Noah Bookbinder:
The Constitution’s emoluments clauses are core protections against destabilizing foreign and domestic corruption. We never thought we would have to sue the president to enforce them; we hoped that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office. He did not, and we were forced to bring our landmark Emoluments case because the plaintiffs in this case — and the American people — have been directly harmed by the President’s violations. While today’s ruling is a setback, we will not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation. The Constitution is explicit on these issues, and the president is clearly in violation. Our legal team is weighing its options and will soon lay out our decisions on how to proceed.