In the months leading to President Trump's election in November 2016 questions about how he would handle his businesses were he to get elected kept popping up but never became a focal issue in the campaign. Then candidate Trump repeatedly assured members of the media that he would place his businesses in a "trust" so as to comply with the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clause plus address any other emergent conflict of interest issues. On January 11, 2017 his attorney Sheri Dillon held a press conference to address the Emoluments Clause and other conflict of interest questions. Since the January 11 interview, the Emoluments Clause question has lingered in the background until this week when some 200 Members of Congress(Democrats) announced they were filing a lawsuit against the President.
The Emoluments Clause lawsuit by the Members of Congress is by no means the first attempt at this. There have been two other notable suits filed against the President, one by the non-profit group CREW and the other by Maryland and DC Attorneys-General. What distinguishes the Congressional lawsuit from the previous two is it's strength in the all-important legal question of "standing". There are complex legal definitions as to what legal standing means but it boils down to this simple question:"Have you suffered harm as a result of the actions you're suing for?". Reasonable legal scholars have disagreed as to whether the plaintiffs in the CREW and the MD/DC case can demonstrate legal standing. There's absolutely NO QUESTION however that Congressional Democrats(or even Republicans) can demonstrate harm as a result of the President's actions and it's all in the text of the Emoluments Clause
The text of the Emoluments Clause makes it very clear that only with the "CONSENT OF CONGRESS" can the President receive foreign profits. For legal standing, all the Members of Congress have to show a Judge is that the President never sought/received their approval prior to making foreign profits. It's hard to envision a federal judge disqualifying this as a "harm". The Congressional lawsuit is therefore to date the most potent. Needless to say Congressional Democrats will as part of the Discovery process request the Judge to order the release of the President's Tax Returns, again a proposition I don't envision a federal judge denying. After all, the President did promise to release his Tax Returns during the campaign and as we saw in the Travel Ban case, his previous pronouncements can be used in court.
Therefore while we are consumed by the Trump-Russia investigation and it's potential to bring down the Trump administration, I will stick to my initial prediction that the Emoluments Clause is Trump Family's Worst Nightmare, a position that has earned me a PERMANENT "TEMPORARY RESTRICTION" on Twitter. I will even go out on a limb and say that a federal judge will find the Congressmen to have LEGAL STANDING and GRANT their DISCOVERY request for Trump's Taxes. A federal judge ORDERING the President to release his Tax Returns will mark the beginning of the end of the Trump administration.
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