A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia do have the legal standing to sue President Trump for allegedly receiving improper payments from states and foreign governments through the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in violation of the Constitution.
The emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits the president and other federal officials from accepting payments or gifts from states and foreign governments. The Trump International Hotel opened in 2016, and the plaintiffs argue that it has an unfair advantage over other hotels in the area because of its link to Trump. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte said 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.'"
The Trump Organization has never publicly shared how much money has been spent at the hotel by foreign governments and states, but prosecutors could seek those documents if the suit progresses, NBC News reports. Catherine Garcia
A New York judge on Tuesday rejected President Trump's motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a contestant on The Apprentice in 2005.
Zervos has claimed that in 2007, Trump kissed her on the lips twice in his New York office, making her "uncomfortable, nervous, and embarrassed." She also alleged that while at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Trump kissed and groped her, and pressed his genitals against her. In January 2017, Zervos filed a defamation suit against Trump, after he made inflammatory comments on the campaign trail about Zervos and other women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
In her decision, Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote that "no one is above the law" and "nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president cannot be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility." Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has argued that Trump's comments were just political rhetoric, and on Tuesday, he said he will appeal the decision. Catherine Garcia
The family of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer who was killed in 2016, has filed a lawsuit against Fox News, investigative reporter Malia Zimmerman, and commentator Ed Butowsky over a story Rich's family says contained "false and fabricated facts."
Rich was killed in Washington, D.C., in July 2016, and police told the Rich family it's possible robbery was a factor; his murder remains unsolved. At the time, the 27-year-old was a voter-expansion data director with the DNC. In a lawsuit obtained by ABC News, Rich's family says a Fox News article posted on May 16, 2017, contained incorrect information that sparked conspiracy theories falsely linking Rich's murder to WikiLeaks' release of 20,000 hacked DNC emails. Fox News retracted the story later that month.
The suit claims that Zimmerman and Butowsky contacted Rich's parents, Joel and Mary Rich, under false pretenses and they "aided and abetted the intentional infliction of emotional distress" caused by the "sham story." In a statement, Joel and Mary Rich said that "no parent should ever have to live through what we have been forced to endure. The pain and anguish that comes from seeing your murdered son's life and legacy treated as a mere political football is beyond comprehension." Butowsky told ABC News the lawsuit is "one of the dumbest" he's ever seen. Catherine Garcia
The lawsuit particularly targets the decision to raise the age to purchase a gun in Florida from 18 to 21. Because "for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights" an 18-year-old is considered an adult, the NRA argues, denying Americans ages 18-20 the right to buy a gun violates both the Second Amendment and the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.
The suit says Florida's new law is especially unfair to young women who may wish to purchase guns, because "[f]emales between the ages of 18 and 21 pose a relatively slight risk of perpetrating a school shooting ... or, for that matter, a violent crime of any kind." In addition to such constitutional concerns, the NRA said, "preventing a responsible 20-year-old from purchasing the best tool for self-defense will not stop a deranged criminal intent on committing a crime." Bonnie Kristian
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit against President Trump on Tuesday, claiming that the deal she made to keep silent on details of a relationship with Trump is invalid. While Daniels and Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen signed a non-disclosure agreement, the suit says, Trump did not.
The suit, obtained by NBC News, alleges that Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had an intimate relationship with Trump that lasted from the summer of 2006 "well into the year 2007," with trysts taking place in Lake Tahoe and the Beverly Hills Hotel. Appended to the suit are two agreements: A "hush agreement" that refers to Daniels as "Peggy Peterson" and Trump as "David Dennison," and a side letter agreement revealing that Peterson is Clifford and Dennison is Trump.
The hush agreement states that $130,000 will be paid to the trust account of Clifford's attorney and in exchange, Clifford would stay mum on the relationship and refrain from sharing texts or photos from Trump. Both documents, NBC News reports, have blank spaces where "DD" was supposed to sign; Daniels and Cohen signed them just days before the election, on Oct. 28, 2016. The suit asks the Los Angeles County Superior Court to declare that both agreements "were never formed, and therefore do not exist," and also alleges that Cohen has been trying to intimidate Daniels into silence, with his last attempt on Feb. 27. Catherine Garcia
Claiming the company is "rife with misogyny," former ESPN host and legal analyst Adrienne Lawrence sued the network Monday, alleging that she was fired after telling the HR department she was being sexually harassed by a SportsCenter anchor.
Lawrence's lawsuit states that when she joined the network as a fellow in 2015, John Buccigross offered to mentor her, but soon he started sending inappropriate text messages, and when she turned him down, he started a rumor that she was "sleeping her way to the top." When she went to HR to complain, the suit says, she was told to "give him a chance." Lawrence also claims men watch pornography in the office, make sexually explicit comments, and keep scorecards for their female colleagues, NBC News reports.
ESPN said in a statement the network conducted an investigation and found her accusations are "entirely without merit." Lawrence was hired for two years as part of a talent development program, the network added, and was told her contract would not be renewed. In December, Buccigross told The Boston Globe he did send pictures to her, and considered Lawrence "to be a friend. I'm sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn't my intent." Catherine Garcia
Roy Moore, the failed Republican Alabama Senate candidate and a former judge, is being sued by a woman who said he touched her sexually when she was 14 and he was in his early 30s.
Leigh Corfman filed a defamation lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Thursday, and Moore's campaign is also listed as a defendant, AL.com reports. The suit says Moore and his campaign committee "have defamed Ms. Corfman, repeatedly and in all forms of media, calling her a liar and questioning her motivation for publicly disclosing that Mr. Moore sexually abused her in 1979 when she was a 14-year-old high school freshman and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney."
In November, Corfman told The Washington Post about her encounter with Moore. Several other women later came forward and also accused Moore of sexual misconduct; he denied all of the allegations. Corfman's lawsuit calls for the defendants to retract all defamatory statements made against Corfman, apologize publicly for the statements, and refrain from making additional defamatory comments. Catherine Garcia
A federal appeals court on Friday became the second court this week to rule against the Trump administration's plan to stop transgender people from joining the military beginning on Jan. 1, 2018.
Both courts rejected the administration's request to override a previous court order to stay Trump's transgender recruitment policy. It must be remembered, Friday's decision said, that all transgender recruits "seek during this litigation is to serve their nation with honor and dignity, volunteering to face extreme hardships, to endure lengthy deployments and separation from family and friends, and to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives if necessary to protect the nation, the people of the United States, and the Constitution against all who would attack them."
The ruling also said the White House has "not shown a strong likelihood that they will succeed on the merits of their challenge." The Jan. 1 deadline was already a delay from the Obama administration's July 1 deadline for the military to begin accepting openly transgender recruits. The Trump administration argues neither deadline will permit the military to make necessary preparations for the change. Bonnie Kristian