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A day of legal troubles for Trump

March 28, 2018

One lawsuit concerns ownership of Trump's business empire while in office. Another concerns permission to question the president under oath over an agreement with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office
Image: picture-alliance/AP/A. Brandon

US District Judge Peter Messitte ruled on Wednesday that a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of failing to respect constitutional safeguards against corruption by maintaining ownership of the Trump International Hotel in Washington while in office could go ahead.

The District of Columbia and the state of Maryland filed the lawsuit last June claiming Trump had failed to separate himself from his hotels and other businesses which could make him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking advantage. As a result, Americans could not be sure if Trump was acting in their best interests, the lawsuit claimed.

Read moreSpecial counsel Robert Mueller issues subpoena to Trump Organization

Claims that Trump violated the US Constitution's "emoluments" provisions have overshadowed the president throughout his term in office.

Local residents who compete with the Trump International Hotel in Washington have been harmed by decreased patronage, wages and tips, according to the suit. Judge Messitte said the allegations were sufficient to allow the case to move forward.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington
The Trump International Hotel in WashingtonImage: Getty Images/AFP/P.J. Richards

"Their allegation is bolstered by explicit statements from certain foreign government officials indicating that they are clearly choosing to stay at the president's hotel, because, as one representative of a foreign government has stated, they want him to know 'I love your new hotel,'" Messitte wrote. He said there was evidence foreign governments had transferred business since the 2016 election from the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton to the president's hotel.

Other sections of the lawsuit targeting possible gifts to the president from Trump Organization properties outside of Washington were dismissed.

Stormy Daniels wants to talk

The lawyer acting for adult film star Stormy Daniels asked a Los Angeles court for permission to question Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen under oath for two hours over an agreement for her silence over their alleged sexual relationship in 2006.

The White House has denied Trump had sex with Daniels.

She sued the president earlier this month claiming he had not signed a $130,000 (105,000 Euro) agreement for her silence, thus making it invalid. Daniels also claimed the payment was an illegal election campaign contribution.

A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for April 30.

jm/bw (AP, Reuters)
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