Undoubtedly, President Donald Trump was relieved this past January when he defeated the first lawsuit challenging his receipt of business profits while in office. The ruling, delivered by US District Court Judge George Daniels, stated that the plaintiffs “failed to show injury” directly related to the use of the president’s properties by foreign dignitaries and governments.
Judge Daniels also stated that, in his opinion, courts are not equipped to handle such an issue with respect to a sitting president, and that it seemed like an issue better-suited for Congress.
But earlier this month, US District Court Judge Peter Messitte let it be known that he wasn’t persuaded by many aspects of Judge Daniels’s ruling. Judge Messitte stated that he thought Judge Daniels was too quick to dismiss valid arguments that Trump’s competitors do indeed have legal standing to challenge the profits he’s making from his hotels, properties, and other businesses because he is making them as President of the United States.
Judge Messitte also intimated that Judge Daniels had not illustrated his decision making process in a way that the Maryland judge found satisfactory.
“He just said that in a sentence. There was no analysis at all,” Messitte said after Justice Department attorney Brett Shumate invoked Daniels’ opinion. “There’s very little analysis in his declarations. … I’m not really bound by even the logic at this point, with all respect to Judge Daniels.”
Maryland Solicitor General Steven Sullivan argued, “Our hospitality sectors cannot offer clients the the same opportunities to influence the president.”
Clearly, this is exactly why the clause was put in place. Also, this is why presidents typically divest their financial holdings and place their assets into a blind trust instead of leaving the financial babysitting to their children or other family members. President Trump didn’t do this, so his private wealth is indeed being impacted by his presidency. For a sitting American President, this is without precedent.
Also per POLITICO:
“Judge Messitte also raised the fact that D.C. recently reduced the tax assessment on the Trump hotel. Shumate noted that a D.C. official was quoted as saying the decision was made on the merits, but the judge suggested D.C. lawyers are still free to argue the decision was improper or was made under pressure related to Trump being president.”
Most of us had come to terms with the fact that we’d be spending three more years knowing that Trump was using his position as President to increase his profit margins – and not just by messing with the tax code so that it heavily favors himself and other wealthy people. But Judge Peter Messitte just opened up the possibility that perhaps even Donald Trump has to play by the rules.