Close to 200 lawmakers have filed suit alleging that President Donald Trump is violating what is called the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia early on Wednesday, June 14.
The plaintiffs argue that they have standing to sue the President since the clause states that only Congress has the ability to approve payments and gifts the president receives.
“The framers gave Congress a unique role, a unique right and responsibility,” said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut one of the organizers of the lawsuit.
Before taking office Trump bequeathed control of his assets to his two grown sons and a senior executive, but he did not divest from his holdings in any way. Therefore, there is a real possibility that he will gain financial benefit from the profits of the Trump Organization, and that will include foreign governments.
This third such suit also states that no one can discover the full extent to which the Trump Organization benefits from these payments since the president has never released his tax returns.
The first of the two previous lawsuits over the emoluments clause was only a few days after Trump’s inauguration in January; filed by a liberal-funded government watchdog group. Two co-plaintiffs joined the suit later; a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry. The second suit was filed earlier this week by two Democratic lawyers with a similar claim.
The Justice Department and Trump stated that these are baseless lawsuits: the clause does not include normal business transactions such as hotel payments or real estate deals.
Michigan Democratic Representative John Conyers said that together with Blumenthal they organized “greatest number of congressional plaintiffs on any lawsuit against a president.” He added that they’re taking the action “not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option.”
Today Apple Inc is going to trial over accusations being made by state and federal authorities that they conspired with book publishers to increase the cost of eBooks to consumers.
The US Justice Department is taking the famously popular producer of iPads and iPhones to court in a case that observers say will scrutinize how Internet businesses interact with their suppliers of content.
“This case will effectively set the rules for Internet commerce,” said David Balto, a former policy director for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
The lawsuit was first filed against Apple along with five of the country’s six largest book publishers back in April, 2012. The suit alleges that they conspired to raise eBook prices in order to halt Amazon’s grip on book pricing.
Apple is on its own for the trial since all five publishers settled out of court by agreeing to halt their prohibitions on wholesale discounts in addition to paying together $164 million in damages for the benefit of consumers. The five publishers are: Pearson Plc’s Penguin Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers Inc, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, Hachette Book Group Inc and Macmillan.
The Justice Department is not pursuing monetary damages from Apple, but rather wants Apple to be forced to stop similar practices in the future. Apple is worried that if they are found guilty as charged they will then face separate trials by state attorneys general in which they will indeed by liable for monetary damages through class action lawsuits.
Apple’s chances of coming through the trial unscathed could be small, based on a comment made by the presiding judge at the last hearing before the trial.
“I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books,” said U.S. District Judge Denise Cote on May 23. The judge will hear the case without a jury.
With the judge’s opinion before the trial apparently against Apple, why then isn’t the giant computer company settling out of court?
Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an interview with All Things Digital that Apple was “not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do.”
As of January 27 retailers in 40 states in America will be permitted to add a 4 percent surcharge, or “checkout fee” to their bill if their customer chooses to pay with a credit card. The charge can be added to both goods and services charged to a credit card, but not to a debit card. This practice is still illegal in California, Texas, New York and seven other states.
Each business is allowed to make its own decision about whether or not to charge this fee, but if they do they are obliged to inform their customers.
The surcharge was instituted as a result of the largest anti-trust settlement in US history. In 2005 merchants joined together to sue the big credit card companies, including Mastercard, Visa, JP Morgan Chase and eight other companies, claiming that they conspired to fix the fees that stores must pay the credit card companies to accept credit purchases.
Negotiations to settle the case took years while the lawsuit was in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Finally a settlement was reached in which the banks agreed to pay $6 billion to the suing merchants.
Part of the settlement included the provision to allow merchants to charge their customers a fee equal to the cost of accepting the credit card, typically between 1.5 percent and 3 percent of the purchase price.
Consumers can avoid the surcharge by using a debit card or cash to make a purchase. To avoid the surcharge on-line purchases can be done through PayPal or other electronic payment options.