D.C. and Maryland v. Trump

D.C. and Maryland v. Trump is a lawsuit filed on June 12, 2017, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs, the U.S. state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, allege that the defendant, President Donald Trump, has violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution by accepting gifts from foreign governments.[1][2] The lawsuit was filed by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.[2][3]

D.C. and Maryland v. Trump
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
Date decidedPending (filed June 12, 2017)
CitationsNo. 8:17-cv-01596
Judge sittingPeter Jo Messitte
Counsel for plaintiff(s)Natalie O Ludaway
Steven M Sullivan
Patrick Hughes
Plaintiff(s)The District of Columbia
The State of Maryland
Defendant(s)Donald Trump

The suit alleges that Trump has committed "unprecedented constitutional violations" by not disentangling his business interests from his presidential responsibilities.[3] The attorneys general cited the Trump International Hotel's effect on business in the Washington D.C. area as one reason for filing the lawsuit.[4] The suit seeks an injunction to stop Trump from violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution.[2][3] The attorneys general stated they will seek Trump's tax returns as part of their case.[5]

A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case in July 2019, ruling that the attorneys general lacked legal standing to sue.[6] All three of the judges were appointed by Republican presidents.[7] New arguments in an en banc rehearing of the appeal were heard on December 12, 2019.[8][9]

On May 14, 2020, the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the defense's attempt to have the case dismissed on the grounds of presidential immunity by a 9-to-6 majority, reviving the lawsuit.[10]


The Maryland filing follows a lawsuit filed in January 2017 by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, CREW v. Trump, which also alleged that Trump has violated the emoluments clause.[3][11] The D.C. and Maryland lawsuit is the first time a government entity has sued a president for violating the clause.[1][2][3]

In response to the lawsuit on the day of the filing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that the president was not in violation of the emoluments cause, and would "move to dismiss this case", which Spicer characterized as "partisan politics".[3][12][13] Spicer noted that both attorneys general filing the suit are Democrats.[14] Republican National Committee spokesperson Lindsay Jancek also stated that President Trump was in compliance with the law, and called the lawsuit "absurd".[11]

Although the complaint was served to President Trump on June 27, 2017,[15] the parties agreed on an extension to accommodate the work load and a vacation for a DOJ lawyer, so the first formal response was not required prior to September 29, 2017.[16]

On November 28, 2017, the plaintiffs won the right to subpoena documents from the Trump Organization, forcing it to retain any documents relevant to the suit.[17]

On July 25, 2018, Federal District Judge Peter Messitte allowed the case to proceed; denying the Justice Department's attempt to have the case dismissed.[18] The Justice Department had argued that the clause is not relevant to Trump's businesses.[18] On November 2, Judge Messitte ordered discovery to begin.[19] On December 3, Maryland and the District of Columbia issued subpoenas for Trump's financial records related to his D.C. hotel.[20][21][22][23] The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay days later at the behest of the Justice Department, pending hearings in March 2019.[24] This prevented the subpoena of documents until the Court of Appeals rules if the case can go forward.[25]

In December 2018, Maryland prosecutors subpoenaed financial documents of Trump Organization’s golf resorts in Scotland.[26]

At a hearing on March 18, 2019, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was sharply skeptical of the legal basis of the suit,[27] and dismissed the case on July 10, 2019.[6][7] Arguments to reinstate the case were held before an en banc panel on December 12, 2019.[8][9] The parallel CREW v. Trump case, in a different judicial circuit, was reinstated in September 2019 with the New York appellate panel rejecting the reasoning of the July opinion in this case.[28][8][29]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b LaFrainere, Sharon (June 12, 2017). "Maryland and D.C. Sue Trump Over His Private Businesses". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Davis, Aaron C. (June 12, 2017). "D.C. and Maryland sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gambino, Lauren (June 12, 2017). "'Unprecedented violations': states sue Trump for not separating business ties". The Guardian. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  4. ^ Witte, Brian (June 12, 2017). "Maryland, D.C. attorneys general file federal lawsuit against Trump". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Pramuk, Jacob (June 12, 2017). "Two attorneys general sue Trump: Checks and balances 'are failing us'". CNBC. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Wamsley, Laurel (July 10, 2019). "Appeals Court Orders Dismissal Of Emoluments Lawsuit Against Trump". NPR. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Harris, Andrew M (July 10, 2019). "Trump Wins Dismissal of Emoluments Case by Maryland and D.C." Bloomberg News. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Weiss, Debra Cassens (October 15, 2019). "4th Circuit to reconsider claim that Trump is violating the emoluments clause". ABA Journal. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Polantz, Katelyn (December 12, 2019). "Appeals court divided on future of lawsuit over Trump hotel". CNN. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  10. ^ Williams, Pete (May 14, 2020). "Appeals court gives green light to Trump emoluments lawsuit". NBC News. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Seitz-Wald, Alex; Siemaszko, Corky (June 12, 2017). "D.C., Maryland Officials Hit President Trump With Lawsuit". NBC News. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Quinn, Melissa (June 12, 2017). "Sean Spicer: Maryland, DC lawsuit against Trump motivated by 'partisan politics'". Washington Examiner. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Alesci, Cristina; Disis, Jill (June 12, 2017). "Maryland and D.C. sue Trump over foreign payments". CNN. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  14. ^ Geewax, Marilyn (June 12, 2017). "Attorneys General Of Maryland And D.C. Sue Trump Over His Businesses". NPR. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  15. ^ Affidavit of Service for Complaint and Summons served on Defendant, Civil Process Clerk, United States Attorney General on June 27, 2017, Docket 12, No. 8:17-cv-01596, D.M.D., July 5, 2017
  16. ^ Consent Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer or other Response to the Complaint by Donald J. Trump, Docket 14 (PDF), No. 8:17-cv-01596, D.M.D., July 18, 2017Paperless Order Granting 14 Consent Motion for Extension of Time for Defendant to Answer or Otherwise Respond to Complaint (until September 29, 2017), Docket 15, No. 8:17-cv-01596, D.M.D., July 19, 2017
  17. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (November 30, 2017). "Maryland, D.C. get subpoena power in Trump emoluments suit". Washington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Overby, Peter (July 25, 2018). "Federal Lawsuit Against President Trump's Business Interests Allowed To Proceed". NPR. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  19. ^ LaFraniere, Sharon (November 2, 2018). "Judge Orders Evidence to Be Gathered in Emoluments Case Against Trump". New York Times. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  20. ^ Taylor, Jessica (December 3, 2018). "Subpoenas Coming Soon In Trump Emoluments Lawsuit". NPR. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  21. ^ Woellert, Lorraine; Gerstein, Josh (December 3, 2018). "Judge green-lights subpoenas in Trump Hotel lawsuit". Politico.com. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  22. ^ Abdollah, Tami (December 4, 2018). "2 attorneys general to subpoena Trump Organization, Treasury". Associated Press. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  23. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan; Marimow, Ann E.; Fahrenthold, David A. (December 4, 2018). "D.C., Maryland begin seeking Trump financial documents in case related to his D.C. hotel". Washington Post. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  24. ^ Wolfe, Jan (December 21, 2018). "U.S. appeals court grants Trump request for halt to emoluments case". Reuters. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  25. ^ Van Voris, Bob (December 20, 2018). "Trump Wins Delay in Emoluments Lawsuit by D.C. and Maryland". Bloomberg News. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  26. ^ Anapol, Avery (February 4, 2019). "Prosecutors investigating source of funding for Trump's Scotland golf courses: report". TheHill.
  27. ^ LaFraniere, Sharon (March 19, 2019). "Appeals Court Judges Appear Skeptical of Emoluments Case Against Trump". New York Times.
  28. ^ LaFrainere, Sharon (September 13, 2019). "U.S. Appeals Court Reinstates Emoluments Case Against Trump". New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2019.
  29. ^ Mystal, Elie (September 16, 2019). "Emoluments Are Back On The Table: Second Circuit reinstates emoluments lawsuit against Trump". Above the Law. Retrieved October 19, 2019. The Second Circuit’s opinion then goes into a point-by-point take down of the Fourth Circuit opinion.

External linksEdit