Watchdog group files lawsuit against Trump over foreign payments

A liberal-funded watchdog group filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump alleging that he is violating the Constitution by allowing his business to accept payments from foreign governments.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York and claims Trump is violating a clause in the Constitution that prohibits his businesses from receiving anything of value from foreign governments. Because Trump didn’t divest his businesses, the group claims he’s now receiving gifts from foreign governments via guests and events at his hotels, leases in his buildings and real estate deals abroad.

"When Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman," the Washington-based organization said in a statement.

Trump dismissed the lawsuit Monday as "without merit" when asked by a reporter in the Oval Office.

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The New York Times reported that the group won’t seek any monetary damages, but instead hopes New York will order Trump to stop taking payments from foreign governments.

Eric Trump told The New York Times that the Trump Organization had taken more than the steps required by law to avoid litigation. He dismissed the lawsuit as, “purely harassment for political gain.”

The group’s lawsuit is one of many expected lawsuits to be filed against Trump.

The Times noted that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request on Thursday asking the Department of Justice, the General Services Administration and the Office of Government Ethics for anything they have on addressing the possible ethical conflicts Trump faces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.