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Court: Democrats in Congress can't sue Trump over business interests

Court: Democrats in Congress can't sue Trump over business interests
The presidential limousine is seen in front of Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel during a dinner with supporters on April 30, 2018. File Photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI/Pool | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- An appellate court ruled against congressional Democrats on Friday, saying they don't have legal ground to sue President Donald Trump for profiting from his business empire while serving as president of the United States.

Democrats have argued Trump is violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says a president's financial interests must be reviewed and approved by lawmakers. It's a measure intended to prevent corruption and conflicts of interest.

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A three-judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., unanimously dismissed the Democrats' suit, in which 200 lawmakers said Trump's businesses holdings were never reviewed or approved, and thus violate the law.

Trump's luxury Washington hotel has notably hosted foreign officials at multiple events, and Democrats say that might amount to foreign influence. The president has refused to hand control of his assets to a blind trust or other financial mechanisms to separate the presidency from his private interests.

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Since the Democratic plaintiffs did not comprise a majority in either the House or Senate when the suit was filed in 2017, they lacked legal standing in the matter.

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"The [Democrats] can, and likely will, continue to use their weighty voices to make their case to the American people, their colleagues in the Congress and the president himself, all of whom are free to engage that argument as they see fit," the wrote in the 12-page ruling. "But we will not -- indeed we cannot -- participate in this debate."

Friday's dismissal is the first of three involving Trump and the emoluments clause. In another, the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington filed a similar suit against Trump, which is making its way through the courts. A third case was filed by the progressive group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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