President Trump’s detractors are bent on forcing him into a fire sale of his vast business empire, arguing his ownership of various assets violates the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. That clause prohibits federal officials from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or Foreign State.” The Framers considered an “emolument” as something similar to a perk associated with the performance of official duties. An automobile given by a head of state to the ambassador from the U.S. would be a classic example of an emolument prohibited by the clause.
Just three days after President Trump was sworn into office, the liberal activist group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) filed a lawsuit demanding the courts force him to divest the bulk of his business holdings. The complaint alleges Mr. Trump’s ownership of real estate assets such as The Trump Tower in New York and Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and his receipt of royalties from the Television program “The Apprentice” qualify as emoluments that create conflicts of interests making him beholden to foreign governments.
The unprecedented legal theory of the case is that President Trump’s properties generate at least some receipts from foreign officials and governments, meaning some of those receipts will eventually find their way into Mr. Trump’s pocket as profits. Consequently, according to the lawsuit, the Emoluments Clause bars him from owning those assets because his judgment as President may be compromised by the profits he receives from foreign payments to his companies.
While the lawsuit drew major media coverage when it was filed, the case is unlikely to find traction in the courts. Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/09/foreign-emoluments-clause-lawsuit-against-trump-unlikely-to-find-traction-in-court/