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Maryland Attorney general Brain Frosh sits down with Chuck to discuss his lawsuit against Trump that bars him from profiting off his properties. » Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc About: MSNBC is the premier destination for in-depth analysis of daily headlines,…
A federal court has held that Maryland and the District of Columbia have standing to sue President Donald Trump over his personal finances regarding the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in what amounts to a political attack thinly veiled as a far-fetched constitutional theory. The foreign emoluments clause and presidential compensation clause exist to keep certain federal officials from accepting compensation from states, Congress, or foreign nations, in exchange for favorable official treatment. Neither Washington nor Obama faced an emoluments lawsuit during their two terms in office. The opinion of the District Court for the District of Maryland, written by Senior Judge Peter J. Messitte, only addressed standing: the constitutional requirement that plaintiffs show that they have suffered some concrete injury; that the person whom they are suing caused their injury; that the court can remedy their injury; and that the case belongs in the courts and not with the political branches. Still, Maryland had a back-up sovereign interest theory: that it could sue Trump to defend against losing tax revenues from hospitality businesses that compete with the Trump International Hotel. Unsurprisingly, Maryland could not show “with at least some measure of specificity how much tax revenue it may have lost to the hotel.” And with no facts to support that theory, Messitte rejected it, too. Quasi-Sovereign Interests Next, the plaintiffs turned to so-called “quasi-sovereign interests,” which in Snapp & Son, the Supreme Court ultimately described as twofold: defending the economic and physical well-being of its residents, and ensuring that they, and the state, “are not excluded from the benefits that are to flow from participation in the federal system.” Here, the plaintiffs claimed to be enduring the “intolerable dilemma” of being “forced to choose”: give the Trump Organization “special concessions” in future dealings, or “risk being placed at a disadvantage” to states that already have, “or may in the future,” grant such concessions. Messitte observed that “the District’s tax authorities, according to a report in The Washington Post, in fact granted the hotel a reduction in its 2018 tax bill for a savings of $991,367.00.” But Messitte ignored D.C. tax authorities, who declared that those concessions “were routine and that no favoritism was involved.” Here’s the rub: The plaintiffs, like virtually every other jurisdiction, routinely offer tax incentives to private businesses. Proprietary Interests Ironically, the plaintiffs also argue that they can sue Trump because the Trump International Hotel is eating into their own bottom lines, at the Washington Convention Center and the Bethesda Marriott Conference Center. Daniels correctly ruled that the emoluments controversy presents issues that the political branches must resolve.