(AP) A federal appeals court should reconsider its decision to throw out a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his luxury Washington hotel, officials in Maryland and the District of Columbia argued Aug. 26 in a legal filing.
A lawsuit brought in 2017 by the two jurisdictions alleges that Trump violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel.
A federal judge in Maryland ruled that the lawsuit could proceed. But a three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw it out July 10, finding that the two jurisdictions lack standing to pursue claims against the president.
On Aug. 26, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine filed a petition asking the full court to hear the case. They argued that their lawsuit supports their claim that hotels in their jurisdictions suffer “competitive injury” because officials hoping to curry favor with the president are more likely to stay at his hotel.
“It is not only plausible but near certain that some officials are inclined to patronize the Hotel to enrich the President and, necessarily, less inclined to patronize competitors,” they wrote in their petition.
Trump’s attorneys did not immediate respond to requests for comment.
The president’s legal team had argued that Frosh and Racine — both Democrats — lack authority to sue the president in his official capacity. Trump’s lawyers also argued that the emoluments clause only bars compensation made in connection with services provided in his official capacity or in “an employment-type relationship” with a foreign or domestic government.
After the three-judge panel ruled in his favor in July, Trump praised the decision in a tweet, saying that he doesn’t make money but loses “a fortune” by serving as president.
The panel granted a petition for a rare writ of mandamus, directing U.S. District Court Judge Peter Messitte to dismiss the lawsuit.
The case is one of three that argue the president is violating the emoluments clause, which prohibits federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.
-DENISE LAVOIE AP Legal Affairs Writer