A federal judge on Friday denied President Donald Trump’s bid for a midcase appeal in a suit brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleging that potential payments to the president connected to the Trump International Hotel violate the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, saying there were no legal questions to resolve.
Despite Trump's queries regarding Maryland and D.C.’s standing and the appropriate definition of the term “emolument,” among other matters, none of the factors that justify an interlocutory appeal was present in the dispute, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte ruled.
“The president has failed to identify a controlling question of law decided by this court as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion justifying appellate review that would materially advance the ultimate termination of the case or even the material narrowing of issues,” Judge Messitte said.
The dispute stems from a claim by Maryland and the District that Trump’s ownership stake in the Trump Organization, and therefore in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., violates the Constitution’s emoluments clauses because the hotel is patronized by both foreign and domestic government officials.
The foreign emoluments clause prevents anyone “holding any office of profit or trust” from accepting titles, emoluments or offices from any foreign state or monarch unless explicitly approved by Congress, while the domestic emoluments clause prevents any president from receiving any emolument from the U.S. beyond a standard salary.
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Maryland and D.C. are represented by Karl A. Racine, Stephanie E. Litos and Natalie O. Ludaway of the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Brian E. Frosh, Steven M. Sullivan and Leah J. Tulin of the Office of Attorney General for the State of Maryland, Norman L. Eisen, Laura C. Beckerman and Stuart C. McPhail of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Joseph M. Sellers and Christine E. Webber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Deepak Gupta and Daniel Townsend of Gupta Wessler PLLC.
The case is District of Columbia et al. v. Trump, case number 8:17-cv-01596, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
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