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Judges lean toward Trump in hotel ’emoluments’ case

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A three-judge U.S. appeals court panel signaled sympathy toward President Donald Trump on Tuesday in his appeal in a Democratic-backed lawsuit that accuses him of violating anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution with his Washington hotel.

The judges on the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals indicated they may dismiss the lawsuit filed against the Republican president in June 2017 by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Maryland-based U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte last year allowed the lawsuit to proceed, a ruling that Trump appealed to the 4th Circuit. All three of the judges who heard the appeal were appointed by Republican presidents. Trump’s lawyers told the appeals court that Messitte, a Democratic appointee, should have dismissed the case.

The judges raised concerns about Messitte’s findings on the Constitution’s “emoluments” clauses, which prohibit a president from accepting gifts from foreign countries and U.S. states without congressional approval.

Trump opened the Trump International Hotel, just blocks from the White House, shortly before he was elected in 2016. Unlike past presidents, he has retained ownership of numerous business interests, including the hotel, while serving as president.

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Since his election, the hotel has become a favored lodging and event space for some foreign and state officials visiting the U.S. capital. The lawsuit alleges that, in failing to disengage from the hotel, Trump has made himself vulnerable to inducements by foreign governments seeking to curry favor, violating the Constitution.

The Trump Organization, the president’s company now run by his sons, has pledged to donate to the U.S. Treasury profits that its hotels make from foreign governments. The company has reported making such donations, while also saying it is “impractical” to require customers representing foreign countries to identify themselves.

In his ruling, Messitte embraced a broad definition of emoluments. Messitte said the provision encompasses any “profit, gain or advantage” received “directly or indirectly” from a foreign government, U.S. state government or federal agency.

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The appeals court judges indicated that Messitte’s definition was too broad. Judge Dennis Shedd said Messitte’s definition could deter from public service “anybody who has grown something successfully or has business interests.”

Judge Paul Niemeyer said requiring the president to divest his financial interest in the hotel would not remove the Trump name from it, and foreign officials would still use it.

The attorneys generals said in a joint statement they “will keep fighting to stop the president’s daily violations of our nation’s original anti-corruption laws, because Americans should never have to wonder if the president is working on their behalf or in his personal financial interest.”

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Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham


Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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‘Bond is dead’: White dudes flip out over casting of a black woman as next Agent 007

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On Monday, the Daily Beast reported that the new 007 -- the special agent in the James Bond series -- will be portrayed by the black actress Lashana Lynch.

The announcement set off predictably racist and sexist reactions.

Perhaps the most prominent right-winger to voice his displeasure was Ben Shapiro, who complained that it didn't make sense for Bond to be a woman because of the character's signature seduction moves.

"Bond is about the guns and the girls," Shapiro said, noting that a woman in a seductive role was not realistic.

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REVEALED: The government just ‘dramatically’ expanded its investigation of Jeffrey Epstein

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Federal investigators have been able to “dramatically expand” their investigation into financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as prosecutors bring sex trafficking charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said in court on Monday.

The government revealed the expansion of the case at the day’s bail hearing. In searching the defendant’s house, investigators found an old passport with Epstein picture and a fake name that listed Saudi Arabia as the location of his residence, the prosecutor said.

The judge was surprised at this revelation, NBC News reported, asking the attorney, “Say again?”

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Will Hurd becomes first GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump’s ‘racist and xenophobic’ attacks on Dems

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Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) on Monday became the first Republican lawmaker to unequivocally condemn President Donald Trump's racist attacks against four Democratic lawmakers.

When asked by CNN's Christiane Amanpour about Trump's weekend tweets, in which he told Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) to “go back” to their countries despite the fact that all four are American citizens, Hurd did not hold back on repudiating the president's statements.

"Those tweets are racist, and xenophobic," he said. "They’re also inaccurate. The four women he’s referring to are actually citizens of the United States."

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