Officials in Maryland and the U.S. capital Washington will sue President Donald Trump for accepting payments and benefits from foreign governments through his business empire, news reports said Sunday night.
"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", said D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine in a news conference on Monday.
President Trump faces a new legal challenge, this time from the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Norman Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer, said jurisdictions such as these are among the "most ideal plaintiffs" to impeach Trump over the finances spent lately because both attorneys share the same view, insisting on law enforcement.
The lawsuit also asserts that since Trump made a decision to maintain his financial interests in his global business empire, he is committing "unprecedented constitutional violations" by accepting those payments.
Since then, a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry joined as plaintiffs.
The Justice Department also said the group had defined emoluments too broadly, and that the concept applies only to payments given to the president in his official capacity.
The Attorney Generals argued that Trump's continued violation of anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution undermines the trust of the American people and his conflicts of interest threaten the country's democracy. The domestic emoluments clause forbids the president from receiving any other "emolument" while he's in office, generally defined as a payment or other financial benefit.
Trump said in January he would turn over the day-to-day operation of his real estate business to his family and place its assets in a trust. However, Trump is yet to keep his promises of separating public mandates and business interests. For example, the Trump property competes against Washington's convention center; a government-owned conference center in Bethesda, Md.; and the National Harbor resort in Prince George's County, Md.
The president is already fending off similar claims in federal court in NY that he violated the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses.
The Emoluments Clauses were included in the Constitution as anti-corruption provisions, meant to shield the president from outside influence and ensure that he works in the nation's interest rather than focusing on his own bottom line.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, the report said. Lawyers will seek access to Trump's personal tax returns as part of the legal process known as discovery, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told reporters.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted that response at a White House press briefing Monday.
Specifically the lawsuit alleges President trump is in violation the emolument clauses which strictly forbids the president from taking compensation from foreign governments. Racine said he felt the need to sue the president to be the check and balance that it appears Congress is unwilling to be.
The Trump Organization has promised in the past to take steps to address some ethics concerns.