Maryland, DC sue Trump over business dealings

On Monday's broadcast of CNN's "Situation Room", CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin stated the lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia and Maryland against President Trump "is a political attempt to interfere and damage the presidency".

Earlier this year, legal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) filed a federal lawsuit in the in the southern district of NY alleging that Trump violated the constitution by failing to sufficiently extract himself from his expansive business empire, which has interests in more than two dozen countries.

If a federal judge allows the case to proceed, Mr Racine and Mr Frosh said they would demand copies of Mr Trump's personal tax returns in court to gauge the extent of his foreign business dealings. He also pointed out that as attorneys general; it is their responsibility to "serve as a check and balance against the President, whose activities have opened the door to the type of corruption the Framers of the Constitution aimed to prevent".

Attorneys General Racine and Frosh expressed their thanks to their staffs and to several partners who provided assistance in assembling the lawsuit.

"If the Justice Department is right, the emoluments clause has no meaning whatsoever", Frosh said.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization did not immediately return requests for comment.

In the CREW lawsuit, the Justice Department argued Friday that the group was not harmed and therefore was not in a position to sue.

The domestic Emoluments Clause says presidents will receive payment for their time in the White House and may not receive payment or "any other emolument" from a U.S. state or a foreign government during this period.

U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump arrive at the White House June 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.

"Although he formed a trust to hold his business assets, he may obtain distributions from his trust at any time". He refused to release them even though all previous presidents had done so during their run for the presidency since about the 1960s.

"The emoluments clauses are a firewall against presidential corruption", Frosh told journalists at a press conference in Washington on Monday.

The Trump Hotel in the nation's capital affects business in the Washington area and is part of the reason the lawsuit was filed, the two Democratic officials said. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Maryland on Monday alleges he is violating the Constitution by accepting payments from foreign governments.

Both clauses ban any "person holding any Office of Profit or Trust" from receiving any payment from foreign countries or from any of the 50 states without approval from Congress.

Trump already faces a similar lawsuit brought in January by plaintiffs that include an ethics group, a restaurant group and a hotel events booker.

Has Trump broken the emoluments clause?

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Trump's "interests do not violate the Emoluments Clause" and said partisan politics in behind this lawsuit.

The lawsuit focuses on the fact that the president opted to keep ownership of his businesses when he was elected.

The Post cited examples of foreign government showing preference for that hotel over others, at what neighboring Maryland and Washington say is their expense. "Most presidents have avoided having any kinds of financial arrangements with foreign countries", he said, "and presidents in the past have been very rigorous in reporting gifts from foreign governments".

  • Zachary Reyes