Donald Trump is asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit against him under the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution by claiming he has "absolute immunity."
Trump Claims 'Absolute Immunity' Protects Him Against Emoluments Lawsuit
Credit: DonkeyHotey
May 2, 2018

Donald Trump's lawyers have responded to the lawsuit filed against him under the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution preventing acceptance of gifts or other compensation from foreign governments and individual states while he holds office. They argue that Trump has "absolute immunity" from lawsuits filed against him while he holds office.

Reuters reports:

“If Plaintiffs want to sue the President for acts taken while in office, they must sue him in official capacity. But he is absolutely immune from any suit, including this one, seeking to impose individual liability premised on his assumption of the Presidency itself,” Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy wrote in a court filing on Tuesday.

“The Supreme Court has concluded that the costs to the Nation of allowing such suits to distract the President from his official duties outweigh any countervailing interests. That choice must be respected,” Consovoy added.

If this argument holds, it essentially negates the emoluments clause altogether, which states, "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

If a person holding office also has absolute immunity against being sued under this clause, then it bears no weight whatsoever. It's hard to see how Trump enjoys a grant of "absolute immunity" or how he doesn't have an immediate personal benefit from foreign governments renting his hotel for events, or for that matter, the Republican Party or state officials.

The American Constitution Society explains why this clause is there, and why it's so important (emphasis mine):

When the President orders his affairs such that foreign powers can seek influence through his private bank account, he betrays our collective trust. Now all Americans must worry that foreign emoluments extended to the President will translate into American jobs being shipped overseas or American consumers being stiffed. Our soldiers must worry that they may be deployed abroad because the President’s personal attachment to (and private investment in) Trump-branded properties will result in otherwise-avoidable conflagrations.

A court hearing is scheduled for June 7th. Let's hope the court is more interested in protecting the Constitution than Donald Trump.

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