The attorneys general in the nation's capital and Maryland filed a lawsuit Monday against President Trump, arguing he is violating anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign government and other government entities.
Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine told reporters that foreign governments are already spending money at Trump properties to curry favor with Trump.
It says that despite shifting his business empire into a trust run by his sons, his ownership made the president "deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors", the Washington Post first reported.
The challenge "represents an important new front in the emoluments war", according to Norman Eisen, head of the non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that also filed a similar suit in NY on behalf of private plaintiffs. Trump was supposed to shift business assets into his sons' trust to eliminate the prospects of his son having conflicts of interests.
"The defendant's acceptance or receipt of presents and emoluments in violation of the Constitution presents the District and Maryland with an intolerable dilemma: Either grant the organization's requests for concessions, exemptions, waivers, variances, and the like. or deny such requests and be placed at a disadvantage vis-a-vis states and other government entities that have granted or will agree to such concessions", they wrote.
Fans already lining up for Penguins' Stanley Cup parade
If he waives the former to be exposed to the Golden Knights, he will still have the latter as protection. Pittsburgh is hosting a parade to celebrate the Penguins' Stanley Cup championship.
The suit also alleges that businesses in both Maryland and D.C. have been harmed by Trump's tendency to utilize his own convention centers and properties, such as the Trump International Hotel in D.C. The suit says that hotel payments, tax breaks, and permits all count as domestic emoluments received by Trump, according to CNN Money.
This is not the first federal lawsuit to accuse the president of violating the emoluments clause of the constitution, but the case is novel.
"The president's conflict of interests threaten our country", Frosh said.
Mr 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. Furthermore, it prohibits the president from accepting gifts or emoluments from state governments.
Since Trump continues to own and profit from the Trump Organization, the lawsuit claims citizens can not know whether their president is making decisions in the best interests of the nation or rather out of "self-interested motivations grounded in the worldwide and domestic business dealings in which President Trump's personal fortune is at stake".
According to the Prosecutor General, the case is likely to be in the Supreme court.
The White House previously commented that CREW's lawsuit is "totally without merit".
The suit asks for a "declaratory judgement" that Trump has violated the emoluments clauses and that he will continue to do so until he divests entirely from his businesses. "There is no other president whose domestic and foreign investments, the entanglements, have been so bound up with our policy and our interests, and he is the only president who has refused to disclose the extent of his holdings and interests, so yes it will be a subject of our lawsuit".