A court summons has been sent to the White House, according to reporting by WAMU in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit by DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. This lawsuit alleges that Trump is in violation of the emoluments clause of the United States Constitution.
In November of last year, Judge Peter J. Messitte ordered the Trump business to preserve records related to the lawsuit. “This ruling is an important first step in our litigation against President Trump for unlawfully receiving emoluments from foreign and domestic governments,” Racine stated after the ruling.
A previous lawsuit of a similar nature was filed against President Trump last year, but was dismissed by a judge in December 2017, in part due to a failure of the plaintiffs to show direct injury. However, the new lawsuit argues that businesses in Maryland and DC have been directly injured as potential customers have chosen to stay at Trump properties instead, in an effort to win political favor with the President.
The judge who dismissed the previous lawsuit also argued that the alleged emoluments clause violation would be better settled by Congress, writing:
“As the explicit language of the Foreign Emoluments Clause makes clear, this is an issue committed exclusively to Congress. As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant’s conduct unlawfully infringes on that power. If Congress determines that an infringement has occurred, it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to Defendant’s conduct. As such, this case presents a non-justiciable political question.”
Thus, it remains to be seen whether the judge of the new lawsuit will rule similarly in regards to Congress. The President’s lawyers have three weeks to respond to this summons.