The Associated Press reports:
President Donald Trump’s hotel company did not break the law by doing business with other countries, a Justice Department lawyer told a federal judge Monday. The state of Maryland and the District Columbia have accused Trump of capitalizing on the presidency and causing harm to local businesses that compete with his Washington hotel.
Monday’s arguments before U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte delve into the substance of the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” and what it means. The clause bans federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign or state governments without congressional approval.
Trump administration lawyers say such business activity, including hotel room stays, isn’t an emolument. But attorneys general for Maryland and DC have rejected the government’s stance. “This case is about the president of the United States making an affirmative decision to use the government to enrich himself,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine told The Associated Press last week.
This is just one of the three emoluments suits against Trump. Last week Trump’s lawyers argued that members of Congress have no standing to bring their case. Multiple foreign governments have moved their meetings and galas to Trump’s DC hotel since the election.