In requesting that a judge in New York dismiss a case brought against Trump for violating government ethics rules, the Justice Department on Friday appeased a president who has routinely asserted that his business is, well, his business, and he can use his office to line his and his family's pockets in any way he sees fit.
The suit, brought in January by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), seeks to prove that Trump is in violation of a portion of the US Constitution called the Emoluments Clause, which bars federal employees, including the president, from receiving payments or gifts from foreign governments or business entities without previously gaining congressional approval.
In its Friday filing, the Justice Department — apparently attempting to prove a negative — sought to claim that making it illegal for Trump (and his many family businesses) to accept money from foreign governments would require that the US rewrite its history, as even George Washington would have been found guilty of the practice, according to the Business Insider.
Friday's Justice Department statement was filled with choice legalese, including a comment that: "neither the text nor the history of the [Emoluments] clause shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a president's private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power."
CREW has been actively calling out Trump's administration on ethics issues, including demanding to see the president's tax returns.
The Justice Department's assertion does not, however, prevent the CREW lawsuit from going forward.
A CREW spokesperson expressed disappointment with the Justice Department findings, stating, "It's clear from the government's response that they don't believe anyone can go to court to stop the president from systematically violating the constitution."
"We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court," stated the CREW spokesperson.