Gupta Wessler PLLC is proud to be working with a dream team of bipartisan ethics experts, constitutional scholars, and litigators to challenge the constitutionality of Donald Trump’s acceptance of payments from government officials through his private businesses. We are litigating two separate cases—a suit by private plaintiffs (filed in federal court in New York) and a suit by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia (filed in federal court in Maryland).
The Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever” from any foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without Congress’s consent. The Domestic Emoluments Clause provides that the President’s “Compensation” shall not be supplemented by any “other emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
President Trump is violating these clauses in a number of ways, including through patronage by foreign and domestic governments at the Trump International Hotels in Washington, D.C. and New York, leases held by foreign governments at New York’s Trump Tower, and other business dealings in foreign countries.
In addition to Deepak Gupta of Jonathan Taylor of Gupta Wessler, our legal team includes CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter (the top White House ethics lawyers under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively); leading constitutional scholars Laurence Tribe, Zephyr Teachout, and Erwin Chemerinsky; and trial litigators from the Cohen Milstein law firm.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, et al. v. Trump (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit):
In this case, our clients—a hotel and restaurant owner (Eric Goode), a hotel-event booker (Jill Phaneuf), and an association of hundreds of restaurants and thousands of restaurant workers (ROC United)—challenge President Trump’s violations of both the U.S. Constitution’s Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. The suit seeks an injunction to put a stop to the President’s constitutional violations.
Deepak Gupta presented oral argument in the district court in New York on October 18, 2017 and oral argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York on October 30, 2018. The Second Circuit ruled in our favor on September 13, 2019, allowing the suit to go forward. On August 17, 2020, the Second Circuit denied the President’s petition for rehearing en banc.
District of Columbia and Maryland v. Trump (U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland):
Gupta Wessler PLLC is also representing the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland in parallel litigation filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. The government’s motion to dismiss was filed on September 27, 2017, and our opposition to the motion was filed on November 7, 2017. The district court issued two decisions denying the government’s motion to dismiss: one finding Article III standing the other finding that the plaintiffs have stated a claim on the merits. The government sought an interlocutory appeal to the Fourth Circuit, which was granted by a three-judge panel.
On May 14, 2020, the en banc Fourth Circuit issued a decision reinstating the case and denying the President’s request for extraordinary appellate relief.
Blumenthal, et al. v. Trump (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit):
A third case alleging violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause was filed by more than two hundred members of Congress. They are represented by Brianne Gorod and her colleagues at the Constitutional Accountability Center. Gupta Wessler is not directly involved in the congressional litigation.