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D.C. Trump Hotel Emoluments Case Can Proceed

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 30, 2018 7:00 AM

The federal district court in Maryland has ruled that the case against President Donald Trump's hotel in Washington, D.C., alleging unfair competition and violation of the emoluments clause, can proceed.

Fortunately for the president, the court did limit the case only to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. That means Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties cannot be included in the lawsuit. Although a similar case out of New York had been dismissed for a lack of standing, the Maryland federal district court found that both D.C. and Maryland had standing to sue over the Trump International Hotel in D.C.

What's This Case About?

The case was filed last year by the attorney generals for D.C. and the state of Maryland. In short, it alleges that payments made by foreign officials to the Trump International Hotel are essentially gifts given in an attempt to curry favor with the president. The AGs allege that nearby hotels and businesses are losing business from foreign officials because of the president's association with the Trump hotel.

As the AP pointed out, the federal judge highlighted that the plaintiffs in the case were actually able to point to explicit statements made by foreign officials that "they are clearly choosing to stay at the president's hotel because, as one representative of a foreign government has stated, they want him to know 'I love your new hotel.'"

However, despite the explicit example, the judge believed it to be a stretch that Trump's properties outside of D.C. and Maryland pose an unfair competition problem to the businesses within their borders. As expected, federal government attorneys and officials responded by denying any merit to the case, despite the obvious and clear issues.

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