Restaurant workers, a hotel event booker, and a watchdog group who say President Trump has business conflicts that violate the Constitution cannot sue him, a New York judge ruled Thursday. US District Judge George Daniels said it was too soon for the lawsuit to be considered by the courts, particularly because Congress had not considered the issue, the AP reports. The lawsuit earlier this year alleged that Trump's "vast, complicated, and secret" business interests were creating conflicts of interest. It claimed the business ties violated the Constitution's "emoluments" ban against taking foreign gifts and money without Congress' permission, including for hotel stays or office leases.
Trump had called the lawsuit "totally without merit" while aides to the Republican president dismissed it as politically motivated. Justice Department lawyers had argued that the plaintiffs did not suffer in any way and had no standing to sue, and that it is unconstitutional to sue the president in his official capacity. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington originally brought the lawsuit. "While today's ruling is a setback, we will not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation," said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW. "The Constitution is explicit on these issues, and the president is clearly in violation. Our legal team is weighing its options and will soon lay out our decisions on how to proceed."