A federal court rejected an effort Wednesday to stop President Trump from profiting off a hotel he owns blocks away from the White House, maintaining an open channel for foreign officials, lobbyists and anyone else who can afford it to funnel money to a sitting U.S. president.
The attorneys general of Washington D.C. and Maryland argue that a payment to the Trump hotel doubles as a political investment, giving Trump’s business an advantage over area competitors and allowing him to “brazenly” profit off the presidency. On Wednesday, the hotel’s cheapest room was $671 for the night. The priciest listed: $1,526.
But the federal district court of appeals three-judge panel ordered the case dismissed, overturning a lower court ruling and saying, effectively, that forcing Trump to cut ties with the hotel wouldn’t solve the problem.
“Even if government officials were patronizing the Hotel to curry the President’s favor, there is no reason to conclude that they would cease doing so were the President enjoined from receiving income from the Hotel. After all, the Hotel would still be publicly associated with the President, would still bear his name, and would still financially benefit members of his family,” Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote.
On Wednesday, the attorneys general said they were undeterred by the court’s decision. “We think that this panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a joint statement. “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 continued: “We have not and will not abandon our efforts to hold President Trump accountable for violating the Nation’s original anti-corruption laws. We believe that the federal trial judge correctly decided that the plaintiffs have standing—and that discovery should go forward on President Trump’s receipt of emoluments. All Americans suffer when our chief executive is vulnerable to corrupt foreign influence. The idea that the District of Columbia and Maryland are not harmed by the President’s violation of the Constitution is plain error. We will continue to pursue our legal options to hold him accountable.”
The president, for his part, cheered the decision on Twitter.