August 17, 2020

President Donald Trump must face claims he violated the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clauses by catering to government officials at his hotels and restaurants, as a split Second Circuit denied his bid Monday to reconsider the case's revival and dissenters argued that the plaintiffs haven't shown injury.

In September, a panel majority revived the case, concluding that restaurateur and hotelier Eric Goode had sufficiently shown that statements by Trump may have lured dignitaries to Trump-branded establishments, hurting Goode's and other high-end hospitality businesses. Eight Second Circuit judges backed this finding Monday.

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U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels had thrown out the case in late 2017 after finding that, while Goode and trade group Restaurant Opportunities Center United had shown they were injured when government patrons hoping to curry favor with the president chose Trump-held businesses over others, the plaintiffs had failed to tie those injuries directly to actions by the nation's chief executive.

But a panel majority held in September that statements in newspapers by foreign diplomats — who said, for example, that it might be rude to visit Washington, D.C., and stay at a hotel that competes with Trump's businesses — were enough to support a connection between the president and the alleged harms, at least in the early stages of the litigation.

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The emoluments clauses bar officers of the federal government from accepting payments from foreign and domestic government officials in exchange for actions in their official capacity.

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The plaintiffs are represented by Stuart C. McPhail and Adam J. Rappaport of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Laurence H. Tribe of Harvard Law School, Deepak Gupta, Jonathan E. Taylor, Joshua Matz and Daniel Townsend of Gupta Wessler PLLC and Joseph M. Sellers and Daniel A. Small of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

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