Maryland and DC plan to sue Trump over foreign payments

Olive Rios
June 13, 2017

The attorneys-general of Maryland and the District of Columbia plan to file a lawsuit yesterday alleging that foreign payments to President Donald Trump's businesses violate the United States constitution, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The Trump administration responded Friday to the first emoluments clause suit, which Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought in January.

Frosh called the Trump empire a series of "business entanglements".

Trump's unique status as both president and the financial beneficiary of his global business empire raised questions about the emoluments clause of the Constitution even before he took office.

The lawsuit, similar to one filed in NY by a government watchdog group in January, pivots on Mr. Trump's decision to place his business assets into a trust, rather than divest upon taking office.

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

If Maryland and DC are able to proceed, the case could turn out like many other Trump-related controversies, where the president's own words - and those of his associates - are used against him. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway also was recently reprimanded for praising daughter Ivanka's clothing line.

Jancek also says the American people elected Trump president, and that it's time Democrats "end their efforts to delegitimize his presidency". 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.

"This is one he can't climb over and one he can't dig underneath".

An artist in Washington, D.C. projected the "Pay Trump Bribes Here" message on the Trump International Hotel in May.

The White House says a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia is driven by partisan politics and the president hasn't violated the Constitution.

Frosh said Trump regularly welcomes foreign diplomats to his hotel and appears frequently at Trump establishments, "using his role as president to raise their public profile".

The Embassy of Kuwait held an event at the hotel after initially booking at the Four Seasons.

It will cite not just the president's luxury hotel in Washington, which has been at the center of concerns about conflicts of interest, but his worldwide network of hotels, golf courses and other commercial properties, the person said.

The president's lawyers have argued the emoluments clause is intended only to stop federal officials from accepting a special consideration or gift from a foreign power and does not apply to payments such as a bill for a hotel room.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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