This Week in Conflicts: Emoluments Lawsuit Continues Forward, Ivanka’s Fashion Label Closing and the Cost of Trump’s Scotland Resort Stay


Advisor Ivanka Trump and Administrator Linda McMahon | August 1, 2017 (Image Credit: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

This week, a federal judge rules an emoluments lawsuit against President Donald Trump can continue moving forward, Ivanka Trump announces the end of her clothing, accessory and shoe line, and details on how much the government spent for the president to stay at his Scotland resort.

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Image Credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore)

Emoluments Lawsuit Moves Forward

Federal District Judge Peter Messitte ruled a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the foreign emoluments clause can move forward.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the President has been receiving or is potentially able to receive ’emoluments’ from foreign, the federal and state governments in violation of the Constitution,” Messitte wrote.

The lawsuit, filed by the D.C. and Maryland attorneys general, claims the President is violating the foreign emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause bans public officials from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without the approval of Congress.

The attorneys general argue that by not divesting from his business, President Trump and the Trump Organization, are profiting from payments from foreign governments. The lawsuit specifically calls out payments and business associated with the Trump International Hotel in D.C. The plaintiffs also allege Maryland and D.C. companies are losing out on potential business because people are choosing Trump-owned properties, instead of local businesses.

This is the first ruling in federal court to define “emolument” which is undefined in the U.S. Constitution’s two emoluments clauses. This decision allows the attorneys general to begin the discovery process which could involve requesting financial information from President Trump and the Trump Organization.

A businesswoman and former model, Ivanka Trump’s speech was peppered with stories from her childhood. She says Donald Trump has made wage equality a practice in his company throughout his entire career. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, A. Shaker/VOA)

Ivanka Trump Fashion Label Closing

Ivanka Trump will be closing down her apparel-and-accessories business.

“After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business,” she said, “but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington.”

The news comes after one of Canada’s largest department stores announced it will stop carrying the clothing, accessory and shoe lines earlier this month. Other companies previously made decisions to stop carrying the brand, including Nordstrom in early 2017.

Since President Trump took office, there have been concerns about the Trump family improperly using their positions to profit their companies. One example occurred in 2017 when Kellyanne Conway encouraged people to go buy Ivanka’s brand while on the TV show “Fox and Friends.” The White House argued Conway’s public endorsement of Ivanka’s brand was not intentional and said it was “highly unlikely” a public endorsement would occur again.

Ivanka Trump no longer oversees the daily operation of her company but earned an estimated $5 million from the brand last year, according to financial disclosures.

President Donald J. Trump departs the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on Marine One | July 13, 2018 (Image Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump’s $68,800 Resort Stay

The Washington Post is reporting the U.S. government paid $68,800 to President Trump’s golf resort in Scotland for his recent stay there earlier this month.

The money covered the cost of hotel rooms used by the President and his staff and was paid to the resort by the State Department, according to the news article.

President Trump bought the resort located in Turnberry in 2014. In a statement from the Trump Organization, George A. Sorial, the company’s chief compliance counsel said, “for United States government patronage, our hotels charge room rates only at cost and we do not profit from these stays.”

President Trump still owns his businesses, including the Scotland resort, but his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have day-to-day control of the companies.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Image Credit: Flickr user Gage Skidmore)

White House Ethics Lawyer to Leave

Politico is reporting White House ethics and conflict-of-interest lawyer Stephan Passantino plans to leave at the end of the summer.

According to the article, “the departure of Stefan Passantino, the deputy White House counsel responsible for policing ethics for Trump officials, will leave a huge hole in the White House’s legal operation, where the 51-year-old has operated as the number two to top attorney Don McGahn.”

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” presents a comprehensive, free, searchable database detailing all of President Donald J.Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as president of the United States. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, learn more about conflicts of interest at every level of government and search our database.  If you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking you can email us or contact us here to contribute to the project.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.