President Donald Trump is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit claiming he’s illegally using the presidency to profit from his luxury hotel just blocks from the White House.
Trump’s lawyers in a 20-page motion filed Wednesday asked a federal judge to reject the case brought by the husband-and-wife owners of a Washington, D.C., wine bar, who say their popular restaurant faces unfair competition because of its proximity to the Trump International Hotel.
“The premise of this lawsuit is that D.C. common law prohibits the President of the United States from owning an interest in a hotel, precisely because he is President of the United States. And the relief sought in this lawsuit is an order directing the President to rearrange his financial holdings or resign the Presidency. Neither D.C. law nor the Constitution permits this unprecedented assertion of power over the President,” wrote Trump’s team of private attorneys, which includes former White House counsel Fred Fielding.
An attorney for the owners of the Cork Wine Bar, who filed the lawsuit in March in D.C. Superior Court, argued at the time that Trump owning a hotel was “unfair and detrimental to other businesses in the city.”
The case has since been elevated to federal district court in Washington – and Trump’s attorneys in their dismissal motion Wednesday requested oral arguments before Judge Richard Leon, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.
Trump’s attorneys argued that the bar’s lawsuit should be dismissed in part because of a Supreme Court precedent that protects the president from lawsuits based on his time in office — otherwise he’d face “the distraction of virtually limitless litigation whose costs he would personally bear.”
Challenging Trump for unfair competition also won’t pass muster under Washington, D.C., common law, Trump’s attorneys said, because of the Constitution’s supremacy clause protections. “No state may regulate the President as President – and neither may the District,” they wrote.
Trump’s attorneys also challenged the underlying premise of the bar’s lawsuit, saying it hadn’t produced any factual claims of unfair competition, such as commercial bribery or false advertising.
Lawyers for the wine bar – who are also representing POLITICO reporters in some Freedom of Information Act litigation – did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.