The Justice Department on Friday argued a federal judge should dismiss a lawsuit alleging President Trump is violating the Constitution's ban on federal officeholders accepting "emoluments" (gifts or payments) from foreign governments without congressional consent.
"Historical evidence confirms that the Emoluments Clauses were not created to reach commercial transactions that a President (or other federal official) may engage in as an ordinary citizen through his business enterprises", the Justice Department argued in a motion to dismiss a case first brought by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in January, three days after Trump's inauguration. "Were Plaintiffs" interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited "emolument'".
As The Hill reported, DOJ lawyers have sought to have the lawsuit thrown out, contending "that the foreign emoluments clause doesn't apply to "fair-market commercial transactions" like payments for hotel rooms and golf club fees'". Furthermore, the Justice Department claims, the proposed injunction would violate the separation of powers, since dealing with the suit would impede the president's ability to perform his duties, and such an impairment can not be forced upon one branch of the government by another. "The American people need answers, they expect answers". The lawsuit, filed days after Trump's inauguration by a legal watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), aims to force Trump to divest from his businesses by arguing that he is constitutionally forbidden from accepting money from foreign governments while serving as president.
As to the issue of standing, Lin argues that CREW can't prove it was damaged.
"We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court", stated the CREW spokesperson. "It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office", CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said at the time.
In the original complaint, filed on January 23, the first business day after Trump's inauguration, CREW targeted payments from diplomats and foreign government officials to Trump's hotels and golf courses.
Justice Department lawyers say the emoluments clause doesn't apply to President Trump's businesses.
And Alan Dershowitz, a prominent scholar on United States constitutional law and criminal law - and a leading defender of civil liberties - says that even if Trump did want to stop the Flynn investigation, this is his constitutional power.
Just prior to taking office, Trump announced he had turned over control of his businesses to his eldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr., in addition to a top Trump Organization official.
CREW later added claims including China's granting of trademarks to the president and the federal government's decision to permit him to continue leasing the site of his Washington hotel despite claims he is in violation of the lease.