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Donald Trump Moves to Dismiss Lawsuit by Dissatisfied D.C. Restaurateurs

“This is part of the problem with continuing to own and benefit from businesses while serving as President”

Trump International Hotel
Warren Rojas
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

President Donald Trump is taking the fight to D.C. restaurants that want him out of the hospitality arena, filing a motion on May 10 to dismiss a lawsuit by Cork Wine Bar asserting that the Trump International Hotel enjoys an unfair business advantage in the area.

Cork owners Khalid Pitts and Diane Gross, who in March asked the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to “ensure a level playing field for D.C. businesses,” say there’s been a significant drop in the corporate dinners and political fundraisers held at their RAMMY Award-winning restaurant since the Trump hotel took up residence along Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Trump’s legal team claims there is no law that prevents the former real estate developer, as president, from owning 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,” reads the document filed Wednesday by Trump's counsel.

Scott Rome of Veritas Law Firm, which represents Cork, disputes the latest arguments.

“Their claim is that Trump can keep his businesses, unfairly compete with others, and then when he is sued for the operation of those businesses, claim immunity. We disagree,” he said in a statement to Eater. “Simply because he serves as President does not mean that he is immune, or above the law, for his unofficial acts. This is part of the problem with continuing to own and benefit from businesses while serving as President.”

Trump’s counsel says the complaint does not fall under the District’s unfair competition law, and should “be dismissed with prejudice.” Cork’s suit, which has subsequently attracted the support of lobbying group Restaurant Opportunities Group United, is not seeking any monetary damages but does want Trump to divest himself from his pre-presidential holdings.

Trump’s team claims that relief sought “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."


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