Published June 12, 2017
The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington D.C. reportedly plan to file a lawsuit Monday against President Trump alleging that foreign payments to his businesses violate the Constitution.
A similar lawsuit was filed in January, but the case from two Democratic attorneys general may stand a better chance in court because it is the first brought by government entities, according to Reuters. The attorneys allege Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
According to The Washington Post, which first reported the lawsuit, the lawsuit focuses on Trump’s decision to retain ownership of his company when he became president. Trump insisted in January that he was moving business assets into a trust to be managed by his sons and eliminate possible conflicts.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said Trump has failed to keep his promises involving his businesses, including having his son Eric Trump update his father about the company’s finances.
“This case is, at its core, about the right of Marylanders, residents of the District of Columbia and all Americans to have honest government,” Frosh told The Post. “The emoluments clauses command that the president put the country first and not his own personal interest first.”
The attorneys said that if the lawsuit is able to proceed it could force Trump to hand over his personal tax returns in an effort to get a grasp around his foreign business dealings.
The lawsuit, which will be filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, will be the second of its kind related to emoluments. An ethics non-profit, restaurant group and hotel events booker alleged Trump violated the emoluments clause.
The Justice Department on Friday argued that the plaintiffs in that lawsuit lack the legal standing to sue because they cannot allege enough harm caused by Trump’s businesses. Justice Department lawyers also contended that Trump hotel revenue is not an improper payment under the Constitution.