A federal judge dismissed two lawsuits on Thursday that claimed President Trump violated the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution, which prohibits the president from accepting gifts or benefits from foreign leaders.
One lawsuit had been filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and argued that Trump was receiving “cash and favors from foreign governments, through guests and events at his hotels, leases in his buildings, and valuable real estate deals abroad” because Trump has yet to divest from his business interests. Another legal challenge came in the form of a class action lawsuit.
They claimed that this directly violated the Emoluments Clause.
But U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels dismissed the cases due to “lack of standing” and said the plaintiffs did not show the injury caused by foreign officials and governments using Trump’s properties. He also said Congress should address the matter, not the courts.
“As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant’s conduct unlawfully infringes on that power,” the judge wrote. “If Congress determines that an infringement has occurred, it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to Defendant’s conduct. As such, this case presents a non-justiciable political question.”
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington pushed back.
“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,” the organization said Thursday in a statement
Trump has been broadly criticized for not divesting from his business interests since taking office. Trump's sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are in charge of a trust that manages his business interests.
Some critics have specifically take issue with foreign leaders visiting Trump's properties, which they are concerned was done in order to bolster their relationship with the president.
While Trump was victorious Thursday, there remains two similar lawsuits in the federal court system.