WASHINGTON — In a legal victory for the Trump administration, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on Thursday that accused President Trump of violating the Constitution by continuing to own and profit from his business empire.
The complaint, filed this year in the Southern District of New York, said that Mr. Trump had harmed plaintiffs in the restaurant and hotel business, including an organization representing more than 200 restaurants and thousands of employees. The lawsuit said that the plaintiffs competed directly with restaurants that Mr. Trump owns or in which he has a financial interest and that they had suffered as a result of his failure to fully distance himself from his businesses.
The lawsuit claimed that Mr. Trump’s actions violated clauses of the Constitution that prohibit a president from accepting any government-bestowed benefits, or emoluments, either at home or abroad.
Judge George B. Daniels of United States District Court in Manhattan found that the plaintiffs had failed to show that they had lost revenue because of specific actions by Mr. Trump. Even before Mr. Trump took office, the judge said, “he had amassed wealth and fame and was competing against” the plaintiffs.
“It is only natural that interest in his properties has generally increased since he became president,” the judge said. While the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution prohibits Mr. Trump from accepting gifts and benefits as a result of his government position, Judge Daniels’s opinion said, they do not prohibit his businesses from competing with the plaintiffs.
In a statement, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a legal watchdog group that initiated the lawsuit, described the ruling as a setback. But Noah Bookbinder, the organization’s executive director, said, “We will not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation.”