Lawyers representing the state of Maryland and the city of Washington on Monday accused, in a federal court, President Donald Trump of illegally receiving payments from foreign officials through his hotel in the US capital.
This income is perfectly legal, retorted a lawyer of the president, from the moment when Mr. Trump offers nothing in return.
At the heart of this lawsuit is the “emoluments clause”, a provision of the US Constitution prohibiting any person occupying a public office from “accepting gifts, emoluments, functions or titles of any kind whatsoever”. a king, prince, or a foreign state “without congressional agreement.
For the plaintiffs, President Trump is guilty of conflicts of interest, having not sufficiently distanced himself from his economic group.
After moving to the White House in January 2017, the real estate mogul entrusted his sons with the management of his business but kept all his shares in the Trump Organization.
Wishing to attract Mr. Trump’s good graces, foreign delegations prefer to go down to the Trump International Hotel, near the White House, denounce in their complaint the Attorney General of Washington, Karl Racine, and his counterpart for the State from Maryland, Brian Frosh.
Debates on Monday in the Greenbelt (Maryland) court tried to define the concept of emoluments, as it was understood at the end of the eighteenth century when the Constitution of the United States was drafted.
The “clause on emoluments” has never been used in a major legal file and the Supreme Court, guardian of the Constitution, has never looked into it.
As a result, Monday was “the first hearing on the meaning of the clause on the emoluments of US judicial history,” said Twitter’s Norm Eisen, president of the anti-corruption NGO Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). ), associated with the complaint.
According to Brett Shumate, sent by the Ministry of Justice to defend the president, there is a violation of the Constitution if someone gives a favor in exchange for a counterpart: for example if the president offered a compromise to someone descended on purpose at the Trump Hotel.
This definition is “far too narrow,” said Eisen.
“This is not how the founding fathers defined the emoluments, it is not how the US state defines them in general, it would not be logical and it would open the door to too much corruption”, a- he insisted.
Judge Peter Messitte will render his decision in this case by the end of July.