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This Week: Judge Says Congressional Emoluments Suit Against Trump Can Proceed

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October 4, 2018 3:31 p.m.

Two hundred members of Congress can continue with an emoluments lawsuit against President Donald Trump, a federal judge ruled Friday. In a 58-page opinion, Judge Emmet Sullivan denied the President’s motion to dismiss the suit, and said the legislators had a legitimate case to make that Trump, by not asking Congress for permission to accept revenue from foreign governments through his hotels and other businesses, had acted unconstitutionally.

In July, Judge Peter Messitte similarly ruled against Trump’s effort to dismiss an emoluments suit brought by the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland.

Trump has certainly tried to profit from his presidency, no matter how often his sons inaccurately protest that he is no longer involved with the family business. Forbes detailed where things stand in a report Tuesday: A new, “Middle America”-themed, Trump-branded hotel chain hasn’t been especially profitable, but the President himself is a majority owner. And, by quickly jumpstarting his 2020 reelection campaign in 2017, Trump has, by Forbes’ count, turned $900,000 of supporters’ campaign donations into revenue for his businesses.

The State of New York and New York City have both announced that they’re following up on a breakthough New York Times report on Trump’s history of “outright fraud” and tax evasion. Aside from detailing the at least $413 million in assets, cash and services Trump received from his father, in addition to tens of millions in loans, the report also laid out a buffet of tax code violations.

Trump’s lawyer and his family have denied wrongdoing. In a press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to deny specific findings in the report, simply calling the whole thing a “false attack.”

E&E News reports that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was working to set up a legal defense fund headed by Republican megalawyer Cleta Mitchell in November 2017. That was months before Pruitt’s various scandals boiled over, fueling public outrage. The EPA Inspector General was reviewing Pruitt’s travel expenses at the time, but we had not yet learned about Pruitt’s targeting of EPA employees for retaliation and his extravagant spending of government funds, nor about his decision to rent an apartment from a lobbyist with business before his agency.

At the height of public backlash against the Trump administration’s family separation policy, officials at the Department of Homeland Security (which houses ICE and Border Patrol) and the Department of Health and Human Services (which took custody of separated children) assured the public that they had created a cross-agency database to more easily reunite families. A DHS inspector general’s office report released Tuesday reveals that was a lie: investigators found no evidence of such a database. A spreadsheet of information was eventually created, but only after the false claim had been made.

The inspector general’s report contains other disturbing details, including that some families may even have been able to be reunited within hours of separation, but weren’t because Customs and Border Protection officials wanted “to avoid doing the additional paperwork.”

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