Washington—In response to the government’s motion to dismiss CREW v. Trump, the landmark emoluments clause lawsuit, an all-star legal team representing Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, Jill Phaneuf, and Eric Goode today filed a brief rejecting the Department of Justice’s argument that President Trump should be allowed to accept all manner of payments and benefits from foreign and domestic governments attempting to buy influence with him.
“This gerrymandered reading contradicts the text of the [Emoluments] Clauses,” the filing reads. “It is also at odds with two centuries of history and a robust body of precedent—from the Office of Legal Counsel and the Comptroller General—administered by government ethics lawyers every day.”
The president’s argument to allow him to profit from his position not only ignores the original public meaning of “emoluments,” it argues for exactly what the Emoluments Clauses are designed to prevent.
“Diplomats openly claim that they patronize the President’s hotels to curry favor with him as President—a blatant violation on any reading,” the filing continues. “But the full extent of his violations cannot be ascertained because he has gone to great lengths to keep his finances secret. They are kept secret not only from the public and Congress but even from his own Justice Department lawyers, who are thus in no position to assure the Court that he is not currently violating the Emoluments Clauses. And, in fact, they offer no such assurances.”
CREW filed the lawsuit on January 23, during President Trump’s first week in office. The plaintiffs are represented in the case by an all-star team of top constitutional scholars, ethics experts and litigators who have combined to argue 45 cases before the Supreme Court. The lawyers on the case include CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents, constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC, and Joseph Sellers of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.
The government’s response is due September 22.