President Donald Trump this week claimed he won an emoluments case brought against him after a federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit. A Harvard law professor and constitutional expert says that's "bullshit."
The lawsuit, brought forward by Washington, D.C., and Maryland, challenged the legality of payments made to Trump's hotels by foreign officials after he was elected president. They claimed that the president was in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits members of the U.S. government from receiving gifts from foreign states without the consent of Congress.
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the states had no legal standing to sue Trump. In the ruling, the panel said that the argument was "so attenuated and abstract" that it raised the question of whether the case was an appropriate use of the judicial system.
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe fired back at Trump, noting that the president didn't win the lawsuit at all.
"It's all bullshit, of course. He didn't 'win'," tweeted Tribe, explaining that the appellate panel had merely ruled that D.C. and Maryland lacked standing to bring the action. "[A]nd he's still using the Oval Office to rob us blind and fill his coffers with piles of rubles that put him in debt to our adversaries," Tribe continued.
Trump still faces a similar lawsuit filed by Democratic members of Congress. Earlier this week, the Department of Justice urged the court to dismiss that second case as well.
Last month, accusations that Trump violated the Emoluments Clause ramped up after a Washington Post investigation found that his private businesses had received over $1.6 million from Republicans and various federal agencies.
One-third of all the fundraisers Trump has attended since taking office have taken place at his own properties, according to the report. Republicans also often host events at Trump businesses in the hope that the president will make an appearance.
Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, responded to the Post analysis in a tweet on Friday morning in which he provided the relevant text from Article I of the Constitution:
"And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State," Nadler tweeted.
The Post also surmised that the amount of money Trump has made due to visiting and campaigning at his business properties is likely much more than $1.6 million. But official government spending records were only available through the first half of 2017.