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Trump says Second Amendment ‘will never be repealed’

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by refusing to divorce himself from his businesses cleared a critical hurdle Wednesday when a federal judge in Maryland refused the Justice Department’s plea to dismiss it. The decision could allow the plaintiffs to scrutinize the Trump Organization’s financial records for payments from foreign entities and others possibly seeking to influence the White House.

In a 47-page order, Judge Peter J. Messitte said he refused to bar the lawsuit filed last year by Washington, D.C., and the state of Maryland, rejecting claims that the two jurisdictions had not sufficiently alleged injuries. The suit alleges that Trump has violated constitutional anticorruption clauses intended to limit government-bestowed benefits to the president, or emoluments, other than salary.

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The emoluments case raises basic questions that have never been litigated. It is neither clear what constitutes an illegal benefit to the president or whether any legal remedy exists if the president accepts one.

Although the suit could still be thrown out on other grounds, the judge’s ruling adds to the president’s growing legal troubles.

For the plaintiffs, his ruling is an important first step in their quest to show that Trump crossed a constitutional line. In his opinion, the judge said they had legal standing “to challenge the actions of the president with respect to the Trump International Hotel and its appurtenances in Washington, D.C., as well as the Trump Organization with respect to them.”

The plaintiffs contend that in hopes of currying presidential favor, government officials are patronizing Trump-owned properties instead of hotels or convention centers in which Washington or Maryland has a financial interest. Those payments, they contend, constitute illegal benefits that violate both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution.

Lawyers for the Justice Department argued that there was no proof that Washington or Maryland facilities are losing customers to Trump’s properties.

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Even if they are, they contend, that does not amount to a constitutional violation by the president.

new york times

Trump says 2nd Amendment ‘will never be repealed’

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Wednesday that the Second Amendment — the right to keep and bear arms — “will never be repealed,” responding to an opinion piece written by a retired Supreme Court justice who called for just that.

Trump’s declaration in an early-morning tweet came after days of silence on the subject, despite student-organized marches around the country over the weekend calling for more gun control.

On Tuesday, retired Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment.

“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday,” Stevens wrote.

“These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.”

Repealing the Second Amendment would have to be approved by Congress, and there have been no formal proposals for such a move.

Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010. He wrote a major dissent about the Second Amendment in one of the court’s hardest-fought decisions. Stevens argued that the amendment does not protect an individual’s right to own firearms.

In his tweet, Trump also said that Democrats support repealing the Second Amendment, but that has not been the case in Congress, which is only considering modest policy changes on guns. In the 1990s, a Democratic congressman from New York introduced legislation for a repeal, but it did not get any traction. Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, did not campaign to repeal the Second Amendment.

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new york times

Conway’s husband using Twitter to tweak Trump

WASHINGTON — As a top adviser to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway spends her days defending her boss from his legions of critics, making her fiery case on frequent cable TV hits.

But now — as they say in horror stories — ‘‘the call is coming from inside the house’’: It seems that her own husband, lawyer George Conway, has joined the very anti-Trump forces she’s fighting against.

George Conway’s Twitter feed has lately become a font of Trump critiques. Here’s the one that really got Beltway types talking: Last week, he retweeted a CNN reporter (a purveyor of what his wife and her boss deride as ‘‘fake news”) who had posted about how Trump says one thing and then does another, making it hard for White House officials to speak for the president. ‘‘So true,’’ he wrote. ‘‘It’s absurd. Which is why people are banging down the doors to be his comms director.’’

Which was ... interesting, since his wife is among those names often being mentioned to fill the role of communications director, a job left open when Hope Hicks last month announced she was leaving the job.

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There have been plenty of other tweets poking the president, and since George Conway is a lawyer, his focus has often been Trump’s legal woes.

On Wednesday, he retweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti’s analysis of how the lawsuit brought by adult-film star Stormy Daniels could prove treacherous for the president.

‘‘This is why the suit by Stormy Daniels matters,’’ Mariotti wrote. ‘‘It will be very hard for Trump and Cohen to avoid discovery, including depositions under oath.’’

washington post