September 25, 2017

THE NEW YORK TIMES ON SETH BARRETT TILLMAN: Lonely Scholar With Unusual Ideas’ Defends Trump, Igniting Legal Storm.

Several lawsuits have accused Mr. Trump of violating the clause by doing business with entities controlled by foreign governments. If Mr. Tillman is right, those lawsuits should be dismissed.

In June, Mr. Tillman filed a friend-of-the-court brief saying that some framers of the Constitution did not think the emoluments clause applied to the president. One of his key pieces of evidence was a document signed by Alexander Hamilton.

The reaction was swift and brutal. Legal historians and a lawyer for members of Congress suing Mr. Trump said Mr. Tillman had misunderstood, misrepresented or suppressed crucial contrary evidence.

Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham, wrote a blog post urging Mr. Tillman to issue a correction. “One might expect,” Professor Shugerman wrote, “that when a brief before a court contains significant factual errors or misleading interpretations of evidence, the authors of that brief will offer to correct their briefs or retract the sections if they are no longer supported by the evidence.”

In another blog post, Brianne J. Gorod, a lawyer with the Constitutional Accountability Center, which represents lawmakers suing Mr. Trump, said Mr. Tillman’s account was “not accurate, not even remotely so.”

Five legal historians, including Professor Shugerman, filed their own friend-of-the-court brief. They said Mr. Tillman’s had “incorrectly described” the evidence in a footnote in his brief.

Mr. Tillman took none of this lightly. In a sworn statement last week, he repeated his original position. “I stand entirely behind the above footnote: behind every sentence, every phrase, every word and every syllable,” he wrote. “I made no mistake, intentional or inadvertent. I retract nothing, and I do not intend to retract anything.”

Mr. Tillman, who is represented by Josh Blackman, an energetic law professor and litigator, rounded up declarations from experts in founding-era documents and on Hamilton. They agreed that the document said to contradict Mr. Tillman’s account was not signed by Hamilton and was prepared after his death.

I asked Mr. Tillman’s critics for their reactions. Professor Shugerman responded with “a public and personal apology.”

The last time so many legal historians embarrassed themselves was when they defended fraudulent legal historian Michael Bellesiles.