DC, Maryland sue Trump over alleged constitutional violations

D.C. and Maryland to sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath

I’d love to hear a discussion of this. On the one hand, it seems very clear to me that the president has violated the emoluments clause. Going against that are three factors:

  1. I may be predisposed to believe bad things about Trump, and I want to work against that.
  2. I’m not sure that there are any legal remedies, short of impeachment, for constitutional violations like this.
  3. Even if there are, I’m not sure if the Maryland/DC Attorneys General have standing to file such a lawsuit.

What do the legal minds here think of this case?

(I’m surprised there’s no thread on this yet; if I missed a GD or Elections thread on it, my apologies.)

Oh what a day! What a LOVELY day!

The question of standing is foremost in my mind, since all else follows after that.

I don’t have a legal mind, but to say the lawsuits face an uphill battle is a bit of understatement.

For example -


From your cite -

ISTM that the air bags in question aren’t in the Constitution - they are in DC and Maryland.

Hope springs eternal, but no, this isn’t going anywhere.


Who would normally have standing in such a case?

NPR this morning said that various hotels and convention centers in Maryland and DC may have standing as they’re losing business because events are booking in Trump properties to curry favor.

It’ll be an interesting suit. At a minimum, it’s one more thing to distract and annoy him and at which he will - no doubt - lash out on Twitter. Every time he touches his phone he’s one misstep away from implicating himself in something.

Congress can begin impeachment proceedings. That’s it.

Trump created joinder, so anyone can sue under the Admirality code.

On a less serious note, Congress would have to change the law, because it exempts the President and Vice-President.


Supposedly “high crimes and misdemeanors” can mean anything Congress wants. Supposing Congress changes the law (it won’t) and then impeaches Trump ex post facto. I wonder if the Supreme Court could rule that such a charge un-Constitutional under Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3?


Congress can’t pass a law to undermine the constitution. This is a constitutional issue, not a matter of statute interpretation.

Like you say, “high crimes and misdemeanors” can mean anything Congress wants. That should answer your question.

Seriously, if they want to impeach him over something that’s not a statutory violation, they can. If they want to enact a statute in order to give themselves a statutory fig leaf that makes them feel better about impeaching him, that’s fine too, but the presence or absence of the statute doesn’t alter the reach of their impeachment power.

Do you mean that the exemption is un-Constitutional? Or am I not understanding you?


“The law” that this case suggests the president violated is in the Constitution. Are you saying that Congress passed a law exempting the president from following requirements in the constitution?

The challenge is against the emoluments clause in the constitution. Congress can’t exempt the president from that clause without amending the constitution. Conflict of interest is different from emoluments.

I think what he’s saying is that Trump isn’t in violation of the conflict of interest law, but of the enolments clause of the Constitution.

I’m not saying Congress did that, but if they did, it would be fine:

The emoluments stuff only applies when Congress hasn’t acted to allow it. If they have done so here (which, again, I’m not saying they have), it’s an example of the Constitution being followed, not an example of it being violated.

This. Yet another distraction to (hopefully) erode his support and interfere with his ability to do even more unfortunate things than he is.

***(I realize nothing will likely erode support within his base, but it could further discourage Congress form openly supporting him, and could discourage individuals from wishing to openly join his team.)

It sounds like it would be a bad idea to pass a law to give them a fig leaf, because then (perhaps) SCOTUS could strike it down as ex post facto. Don’t give them that excuse - just impeach for a high crime or misdemeanor that isn’t against any law. And yes, I agree that Congress could do that.

But then the DC and Maryland Attorneys General don’t need to point to any violation of the Emoluments clause either - Congress can impeach for things that aren’t forbidden by the Constitution either.

But that goes back to what I have said in the past - if Congress is going to impeach a President, they have to have a good reason, or at least a reason that makes sense to the roughly half the country that voted for Trump, as well as voters who didn’t but value the rule of law.

I didn’t vote for Trump, but if some Republican voted to impeach Trump or to remove him from office without a statutory violation that could be proven, I would like to see that Republican’s ass booted out of Congress faster than possible.

“Trump sux so bad we need to remove him from office even if he hasn’t broken the law”? Fuck that noise. We are a nation of laws, not men, or at least we should be if we want to survive.


I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever really understood the Emoulments Clause argument, and the linked article doesn’t really provide much information (and I don’t see a link to the complaint). The fact that the aiml of the suit seems to be to get (and presumably leak?) Trump’s pre-presidency tax returns makes me doubt the legal merits.

That said, even assuming a constitutional violation, I would think that impeachment is the only remedy. What else could there be? An injunction requiring the President to divest the entire Trump Organization to non-members of the family? A court certainly isn’t going to remove him from office.

Then see what Lord Feldon cited from the Constitution.

What do the lawsuits say are violations by Trump of the Emoluments clause that haven’t been approved by Congress in the conflict of interest exemption?


I’m pretty sure there’s no case law, but I looked around a bit when this theory was first floated, and pre-existing commentary has treated the emoluments clauses as bribery prohibitions. Simply doing business in the private economy at ordinary market rates would not qualify. More recent conservative commentary has pointed out that if mere participation in private business was enough, then President Obama’s book sales would have violated the domestic emoluments clause.

Certainly, a court could go in any direction with it, of course.

Hell, worse come to worse we get an unclear clause in the constitution better defined AND distract Trump.