Friday, 23 June, 2017

DC and MD sue Trump, alleging business dealings violate constitution

Attorneys general to sue over foreign payments to Trump hotels, sources say DC and Maryland AGs Sue Trump For Violating the Constitution
Laurie Berry | 18 June, 2017, 22:25

Ahead of the Monday lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a 70-page legal brief on Friday arguing that Trump's businesses are legally permitted to accept market-rate payments from foreign governments while he is in office.

The emoluments clauses state that federal officials shall not receive "any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state" without congressional consent.

The Justice Department last Friday argued that those plaintiffs lack the legal standing to sue because they can not allege enough specific harm caused by Mr Trump's businesses.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer denied Trump was in violation of the clause.

"Never, in the history of this country, have we had a president with these kinds of extensive business entanglements or a president who refused to adequately distance themselves from their holdings", Raccine said.

Specifically the lawsuit alleges President trump is in violation the emolument clauses which strictly forbids the president from taking compensation from foreign governments.

This new suit was brought by attorneys general who are both Democrats, Spicer noted. Still, Democratic attorneys general have led the charge in challenging the president in court.

The lawsuit is the latest and most significant legal challenge to Trump over the issue of emoluments and thought to become another legal headache for Trump following special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible Russian meddling in the US presidential campaign and court challenges to the president's controversial travel ban.

Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh using the example that for a decade Trump had tried and failed to get trademark protection from China.

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Monday's filing comes on the heels of other lawsuits challenging Trump's decision to financially benefit from his enterprises while serving in the White House.

This is not the first federal lawsuit to accuse the president of violating the emoluments clause of the constitution, but the case is novel.

"We do not sue the president of the United States casually", Mr. Frosh said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

In the past Trump has said he would put their reins of his businesses in the hands of his sons and that nobody cares about his taxes.

The focus on Trump International Hotel stems in part from businesses in Washington and Maryland, some partly owned by the local governments, complaining that its link to the president effectively gives it an unfair competitive advantage. "Each President, regardless of temperament or ideology, has sought, in his own way, to honor that solemn vow [to defend the Constitution]", the lawsuit read.

It is at least the third filed by groups and businesses anxious that Trump might be profiting personally from his presidency.

Aside from the issue of the foreign payments ban, Maryland and Washington complain that the presence of a Trump hotel hurts competing hotels in their jurisdictions.

The Attorneys General filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Racine said he felt the need to sue the president to be the check and balance that it appears Congress is unwilling to be. They said the suit involves so-called emolument clauses of the Constitution - little-known anti-corruption provisions meant to shield the president from outside influence. Trump's foreign business dealings and potential conflicts of interest have been controversial since the campaign, but now D.C. and Maryland are demanding transparency within the Trump Administration to ease citizens' concerns.

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