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Case Name Blumenthal v. Trump PR-DC-0004
Docket / Court 17-cv-01154 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Presidential Authority
Case Summary
On June 14, 2017, 30 senators and 171 members of the U.S. House of Representatives filed this lawsuit against President Trump in the United States (“U.S.”) District Court for the District of Columbia. The Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief establishing that President Trump violated the U.S ... read more >
On June 14, 2017, 30 senators and 171 members of the U.S. House of Representatives filed this lawsuit against President Trump in the United States (“U.S.”) District Court for the District of Columbia. The Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief establishing that President Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by accepting monetary or nonmonetary benefits from a foreign state without first obtaining “the Consent of the Congress” as required by the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the Plaintiffs, represented by the Constitutional Accountability Center, sought injunctive relief ordering President Trump not to accept any such benefits from a foreign state without first obtaining “the Consent of the Congress.”

The Plaintiffs alleged that President Trump failed to come to Congress to seek its consent for at least some foreign emoluments that had been the subject of public reporting. President Trump had stated that some of the more than 500 entities that he owned had received funds and profits from payments made by foreign governments, and public reporting had confirmed instances of such transactions made since President Trump took office. Examples included the President’s acceptance of intellectual property rights from the Chinese government, acceptance of payments from foreign diplomats staying his hotels in Washington D.C., and acceptance of licensing fees from the United Kingdom government for his television show, “The Apprentice”—all in 2017. By accepting these benefits, the Plaintiffs alleged that President Trump had (1) thwarted the transparency that the “Consent of the Congress” provision was designed to provide, (2) denied Plaintiffs the opportunity to give or withhold their “Consent” to his acceptance of individual emoluments, and (3) had injured Plaintiffs in their roles as members of Congress.

An amended complaint was filed on August 15, 2017 adding additional House members as plaintiffs and amending some of the factual allegations. On September 15, 2017, President Trump filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on grounds that the Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted.

On December 22, 2017, the President filed notice of a supplemental authority, indicating that another federal district court had dismissed a similar case for lack of jurisdiction (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, et al. v. Trump, No. 17 Civ. 458 (GBD) (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2017)). The court in that case held that the plaintiffs’ Foreign Emoluments Clause claim was a nonjusticiable political question.

Meanwhile, the following entities filed amicus briefs on behalf of the plaintiffs: former government ethics officers, members of Congress, national security officials, federal jurisdiction and constitutional law scholars, separation of powers scholars, and legal historians. The following entities filed amicus briefs on behalf of President Trump: former national security officers, government ethics officers, the Judicial Education Project, and a scholar on the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

The case is ongoing.

Robert Carnes - 10/27/2017
Robert Carnes - 02/05/2018
Virginia Weeks - 03/11/2018


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Emoluments Clauses
Plaintiff Type
Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) President Donald Trump
Plaintiff Description The Plaintiffs are comprised of 30 senators and 171 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Trump and the Foreign Emoluments Clause
https://www.theusconstitution.org/trump-and-foreign-emoluments-clause
Date: 2017
By: Constitutional Accountability Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:17−cv−01154−EGS (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PR-DC-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Sullivan, Emmet G. (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Frazelle, Brian Rene (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-0001 | PR-DC-0004-9000
Gorod, Brianne J. (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-0001 | PR-DC-0004-9000
Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-0001 | PR-DC-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lin, Jean (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Blackman, Joshua Michael (Texas)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Donahue, Sean Hoe (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Goldstein, Thomas C. (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Mapes, Katharine M. (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Maxman, Melissa H. (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Ray, Robert William (New York)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Roush, Corey William (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0004-9000
Spector, Phillip Michael (Maryland)
PR-DC-0004-9000

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