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Trump claims ‘absolute immunity’- asks court to toss foreign payments suit

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President Donald Trump has again asked a U.S. court to dismiss a suit accusing him of flouting constitutional safeguards against corruption by refusing to separate himself from his business empire while in office, claiming “absolute immunity.”

The lawsuit, filed by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, accused Trump of violating the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” clause that bars U.S. officials from accepting gifts or other payments from foreign governments without congressional approval. The same clause also bars the president from receiving gifts and payments from individual states.

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“If Plaintiffs want to sue the President for acts taken while in office, they must sue him in official capacity. But he is absolutely immune from any suit, including this one, seeking to impose individual liability premised on his assumption of the Presidency itself,” Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy wrote in a court filing on Tuesday.
“The Supreme Court has concluded that the costs to the Nation of allowing such suits to distract the President from his official duties outweigh any countervailing interests. That choice must be respected,” Consovoy added.

Trump’s legal team previously sought to have the case tossed out but U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland, last month let it proceed even as he narrowed the claims only to those related to Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, both Democrats, argued in their suit, filed last June, that local residents were harmed by unfair competition by Trump’s hotel and other businesses. Lawyers for the Republican president previously argued that such harm was speculative and difficult to link directly to Trump.

Trump, whose businesses include a host of real estate properties as well as golf courses and a Virginia winery, handed day-to-day management to two of his sons. But the plaintiffs said Trump has not disentangled himself and is vulnerable to inducements by people, including foreign officials, seeking to curry favor.
Frosh and Racine have indicated they will seek numerous documents related to Trump, including his tax returns. Trump has bucked precedent by not releasing his tax returns during his 2016 presidential campaign or as president.

A U.S. judge in Manhattan in December threw out a similar lawsuit against Trump brought by another group of plaintiffs.

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Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Republicans defended ‘a vile scoundrel’ who is ‘racist’ and ‘a petty tyrant’ — and it wasn’t Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump's defense attorneys were blasted for their defense of a different president on Tuesday.

"I mean, of course Trump's lawyers are defending Andrew Johnson. Of course," noted MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes.

"Johnson was a vile scoundrel and a drunk and a racist and a petty tyrant whose presidency brought blood and shame upon this nation," Hayes continued. "That's the kindest characterization I could muster."

The host linked to a 2019 piece on Johnson that he wrote for The New York Times as a book review of "The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple.

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There are 51 votes to approve calling witnesses in Trump impeachment trial: PBS

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After pieces of John Bolton's manuscript leaked to the press confirming President Donald Trump's bribery of Ukraine, Republicans have turned to support the witnesses they once opposed.

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both voted against witnesses and were leaning against them until Bolton's manuscript was leaked to the press after it was turned over to the White House for approval.

PBS News Hour reporter Lisa Desjardins tweeted Monday evening that the news tipped the scales and there were officially 51 votes to approve witnesses.

https://twitter.com/LisaDNews/status/1221951089647538177

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2020 Election

State Department retaliated against NPR by kicking reporter off Mike Pompeo’s plane: report

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The U.S. State Department appears to be retaliating against National Public Radio (NPR) after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suffered a caught-on-tape meltdown following an interview with NPR "All Things Considered" co-host Mary Louise Kelly.

According to PBS "Newshour" reporter Nick Schifrin, the State Department kicked NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen off of Pompeo's jet.

"State Department removes NPR’s Michele Kelemen from Sec. Pompeo plane--where she was scheduled for a pool radio rotation--during upcoming trip to London, Kiev," Schifrin reported.

AFP State Department correspondent Shaun Tandon blasted the move on behalf of the State Department Correspondent's Association.

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