US court reinstates lawsuit on Trump hotel
A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing US President Donald Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his luxury Washington DC hotel.
The lawsuit brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia claimed Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the US constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel.
US District Judge Peter Messitte refused to dismiss the lawsuit but his ruling was overturned in July by a three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The judges found that the two jurisdictions lack standing to pursue their claims against the president and granted a rare writ of mandamus, directing Messitte to throw out the lawsuit.
But on Thursday, the panel's ruling was overturned by the full court of 15 judges. In a 9-6 ruling, a divided court found that the three-judge panel overstepped its authority when it ordered Messitte to dismiss the lawsuit.
The hotel, just blocks from the White House, quickly became a hot spot for lobbyists and foreign officials after it reopened in 2016 shortly before Trump was elected president.
Trump's lawyers had argued that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and District Attorney General Karl Racine - both Democrats - lack authority to sue the president in his official capacity.
They also insisted 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.
Frosh and Racine argued that hotels in their jurisdictions suffer "competitive injury" because officials hoping to curry favour with the president are more likely to stay at his hotel.
In October, Trump's company said it is exploring the sale of the hotel after nearly three years of complaints alleging he is profiting off the presidency.
Originally published as US court reinstates lawsuit on Trump hotel