A federal judge in Maryland last week allowed evidence-gathering to begin in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s right to profit from his hotel business.
“Article I, Section 9, states that no person holding any office of profit or trust under the federal government shall, without consent of Congress accept any present or emolument,” said Lumen, “Lou” Mulligan. Mulligan is the Director of the Shook, Hardy & Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy at KU. The Article I provision prohibits gifts or payments of money from foreign governments to the President.”
The attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia say that Trump’s interest in his Trump International Hotel, less than a mile from the White House is unfair competitively because of Trump’s official status.
“Every other President and most every other senior official in the federal government has, when they take government service, sell off their assets or put them into a blind trust,” said Mulligan. “I’m going to have someone else operate my money for me. I don’t know where it’s invested. I don’t know who has it. I know that I have some money. It’s in the economy generally, but I don’t know in which particular businesses it is invested. In this case, President Trump has not divested himself of ownership interests in his real estate holdings.”
Trump’s lawyers argue that foreign government officials can stay at his hotels as long as they don’t get any special deals.
“We haven’t had a trial,” said Mulligan. “That’s an allegation. I don’t know whether it’s true or not true. The court has said we’ll proceed with a trial.”
The Justice Department has asked for the judge’s permission to appeal and delay discovery. With a shakeup at the top of that department with the departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it will be interesting to see how vigorous the defense continues to be against the suit going forward.