A New York City federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump. The lawsuit alleged that Trump failed to divest himself from the Trump business empire, and was in violation of anti-corruption provisions in the Constitution.
The plaintiffs were members of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which is an anti-Trump watchdog group formerly led by Clinton ally David Brock, according to the Daily Caller.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the federal trial court in Manhattan, the suit said the plaintiff’s economic livelihood was adversely affected because they could not compete with Trump’s businesses after he was elected to the nation’s highest office.
The plaintiffs included event planners, hoteliers, and restaurant owners, who claimed that their customers preferred to frequent Trump properties to gain the approval of the Trump administration or to otherwise garner attention.
However, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge George Daniels on Thursday, the plaintiffs could not prove that President Trump’s actions harmed their businesses tangibly. Therefore, he dismissed the case on “lack of standing.”
Daniels said it would be natural for interest in Trump properties to increase after his election to the presidency, but that was in no way grounds for a lawsuit.
“[T]he connection between the hospitality plaintiffs alleged injuries and defendant’s actions is too tenuous to satisfy Article III’s causation requirement,” Daniels wrote. He also said the Constitution’s anti-corruption provisions are not meant to protect people from fair competition.
“Nothing in the text or the history of the emoluments clauses suggests that the framers intended these provisions to protect anyone from competition,” he wrote.
Daniels also agreed with Trump’s lawyers’ argument that the claims did not fall under the Emoluments Clause, and should be resolved through the “political process.” Daniels pointed out that the Constitution explicitly cedes enforcement of the Emoluments Clause to Congress, and that such cases should not be heard in court unless Congress initially tried to enforce the provision and the president would not comply.
“Congress is not a potted plant,” Daniels wrote in a footnote. “It is a co-equal branch of the federal government with the power to act as a body in response to defendant’s alleged foreign emoluments clause violations, if it chooses to do so.”
The management of Trump’s personal business interests was assigned to his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, after the election.
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