Congressional Democrats sue Trump over foreign payments

Alex Wong  Getty Images

Alex Wong Getty Images

Almost 200 Democratic members of Congress agreed to file a lawsuit Wednesday against President Donald Trump alleging that by retaining interests in a global business empire he has violated constitutional restrictions on taking gifts and benefits from foreign leaders.

In the Constitution, there's a clause that forbids federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers without being approved by Congress. "If that's not a harm to every American citizen and every resident in the District of Columbia and Maryland, I don't know what is".

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is reviewing a lawsuit filed this week against President Donald Trump for alleged violations of the "emoluments clauses" to decide what, if any, action his office should take.

The lawsuit followed an earlier similar complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed on January 23 in NY federal district court.

Experts interviewed by the Post differed on whether the Democratic lawmakers have standing to sue.

"It's not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations behind the suit", he said.

"This lawsuit today is just another iteration of the case that was filed by that group CREW, filed actually by the same lawyers", Spicer said.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland names 10 countries it says Trump has profited from as president.

It'll be interesting to see if the Justice Department will allow any of these suits to actually go through.

"The framers wrote the emoluments clause and made it central to our constitution due to their fear that the country and its officials would become corrupted", Blumenthal told the Courant.

Earlier this week, two Democratic attorneys general filed a similar claim. The trademark applications were approved and processed more quickly because of Trump's status as president, the suit says.

"He bragged about that on the campaign trial", Frosh said. "They would be recognized as statesmen across the country, but in a Republican primary in a Republican state, you get the most extreme right-wing elements voting, and they wouldn't survive".

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution of the USA describes the Emoluments Clause in the following manner. "We can not consent to what we don't know".

The legal effort, led in the House by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., is likely to escalate tensions between the White House and Capitol Hill, where at least five committees are investigating various issues related to the Trump administration.

Trump made a decision to maintain ownership of his company - the Trump Organization - after becoming president but announced in January that he would hand it over to his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump through a financial trust, in an effort to address concerns of potential conflicts of interest. After congressmen and the attorneys general, there is also an ongoing suit involving private individuals who compete with Trump's businesses. He said they're taking the action "not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option".

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