A federal appeals court in Virginia on Wednesday dismissed a case accusing President Donald Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his hotel in the nation's capital, NBC News reported.
Trump is being sued by attorney generals for the District of Columbia and Maryland who contend that the earnings the president receives from the Trump International Hotel from foreign or state governments violate the emoluments provision of the Constitution.
A three-judge panel on U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that Maryland and D.C. did not have standing to sue, CNBC reported.
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“The District and Maryland’s interest in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies between the parties," the decision said.
The three judges on the panel were all nominated by Republican presidents, including one nominated by Trump, according to NBC News.
Trump tweeted, "Word just out that I won a big part of the Deep State and Democrat induced Witch Hunt. Unanimous decision in my favor from The United States Court of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit on the ridiculous Emoluments Case. I don’t make money, but lose a fortune for the honor of.serving and doing a great job as your President (including accepting Zero salary!).
The Trump International Hotel, which is just blocks from the White House, has become a favorite of Republicans, lobbyists and diplomats, NBC News reported. It generated revenue of over $40.8 million in 2018, up from $40.4 million the year before, according to the president's annual financial disclosure forms. The disclosure reports provide only a partial picture of Trump's finances, showing only revenue, not profit, and giving ranges for some figures.
The attorneys general, Karl Racine of the District of Columbia and Brian Frosh of Maryland, said in a statement that the court had got the decision wrong.
“Although the court described a litany of ways in which this case is unique, it failed to acknowledge the most extraordinary circumstance of all: President Trump is brazenly profiting from the Office of the President in ways that no other President in history ever imagined and that the founders expressly sought—in the Constitution—to prohibit,” they said.
All Americans suffer when the president is vulnerable to corrupt foreign influence, they said. The idea that that the District of Columbia and Maryland are not harmed by the president’s actions is mistaken, they said.
“We will continue to pursue our legal options to hold him accountable,” they said.
Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow called the decision a "complete victory."
"The decision states that there was no legal standing to bring this lawsuit in the first place," he said in a statement. "This latest effort at Presidential harassment has been dismissed with prejudice.”
Two other federal lawsuits, including one by congressional Democrats, that also target Trump on the basis of the emoluments clause are ongoing.