Cohen Milstein is playing a key role representing Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), restaurant and hotel plaintiffs, and the state Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia in two high-profile lawsuits against President Donald J. Trump.  Both lawsuits allege that the President is violating the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses, which prohibit a sitting President of the United States from accepting payments and other things of value from foreign and domestic governments, including payments from government officials at his hotels and restaurants.

In both lawsuits, Cohen Milstein is playing a key role, including developing evidence and arguments to demonstrate that the plaintiffs have competitor standing.  Cohen Milstein, along with industry experts, are analyzing evidence of competition between hotels and restaurants owned by President Trump and hotels and restaurants owned by the plaintiffs.

District of Columbia et al. v. Trump, Case No. 8:17-cv-01596, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

On July 25, 2018, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte for the District of Maryland ruled that Attorneys General Brian E. Frosh for Maryland and Karl A. Racine for the District of Columbia had “convincingly argued” that the term “emolument” as specified in the Constitution means any “profit, gain or advantage,” and therefore had plausibly claimed President Trump violated the two constitutional emoluments clauses, and therefore rejected the U.S. Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit against President Trump. This is the first time a court has considered the definition of the term “emolument.”

Discovery is due to begin by September 14, 2018.

Case Background

Cohen Milstein is playing a key role working alongside of CREW in the representation of the Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia in this high-profile lawsuit against President Trump.  Specifically, the Attorneys General claim that President Trump's ownership stake in the Trump Organization, and therefore in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., violate the emoluments clauses, because the hotel is patronized by both foreign and domestic government officials.

On March 28, 2018, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte for the District of Maryland denied, in part, the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling the Attorneys General have standing to bring their lawsuit against President Trump, specifically, the Trump International Hotel and related businesses within Washington, D.C., thereby narrowing the focus of the lawsuit.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Trump, Case No. 1:17-cv-00458, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Cohen Milstein is also playing a key role in representing CREW and hotel and restaurant owners in this case before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit pursues similar allegations as District of Columbia et al. v. Trump against President Trump being in violation of the emoluments clauses, because his Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments.

On December 21, 2017, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels dismissed this lawsuit, holding that plaintiffs lacked standing. CREW plans to appeal.