Lawyers for the US state of Maryland and the capital Washington accused President Donald Trump on Monday of accepting illegal payments from foreign officials through his hotel in the US capital.
Conflict of interest? Trump accused of accepting illegal foreign payments in hotel case
But a lawyer representing the president contended that such payments are perfectly legal, as long as Trump does not offer anything in return. he lawsuit being heard in a Greenbelt, Maryland court revolves around the "emoluments clause" of the US constitution which prevents any public officer holder from accepting "any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State" without the approval of the legislature. The plaintiffs say Trump is guilty of having conflicts of interest, and has not sufficiently distanced himself from his businesses.
As a result, today's hearing was the "first oral argument focused on the meaning of the emoluments clause in American judicial history," according to Norm Eisen of anti-corruption group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Commenting on the Department of Justice's position, which states that Trump is not guilty of violating the clause because he did not explicitly offer a quid pro quo, Eisen added: "Our view is that this is way too narrow.
"That's not how founders defined emoluments, not how US government has generally defined it, and makes no sense as matter of logic, would permit too much corruption." Federal Judge Peter Messitte is expected to give his ruling by the end of July.