Democratic lawmakers sue Trump over foreign state payments to businesses

Cheryl Sanders
June 15, 2017

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is among more than 190 Democrats who are suing President Trump over his business deals involving foreign governments.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of another emoluments clause case against Trump filed on Monday in federal court in Maryland by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Almost 200 Democratic lawmakers have joined together to bring a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, alleging he breached a clause of the Constitution that forbids foreign payments and gifts.

The Constitution's Emoluments Clause states: "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state".

"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.

The Washington Post reported the suit argues that D.C. and Maryland are being hurt because the Trump International Hotel in Washington may be unfairly competing with the taxpayer-owned Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District and a taxpayer-subsidized center in Maryland. Foreign governments - including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Georgia - have all booked rooms at Trump's new Washington hotel. "No one would have thought when the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument", she said.

Close to 200 Democrats in the House of Congress filed the suit, which claims the USA president has been paid by foreign governments through contracts with his companies. It alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by taking payments from foreign governments while president.

"We generally don't comment on any communications with other AG's offices about pending litigation", Brewer said in response. The state of Maryland and District of Columbia filed a suit against Trump citing the clause earlier this week.

The clause also formed the basis of lawsuits from the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and private competitors with Trump's businesses.

Mr. Trump and the Justice Department have called these lawsuits baseless.

Any instance of the president receiving gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers has to be approved by the Congress first.

Lindsay Jancek said Monday that Trump has been committed to "complete transparency and compliance with the law".

The Trump Organization has also said it will donate profits from customers representing foreign governments to the U.S. treasury department, but will not require such customers to identify themselves. "The prospect that a president's decisions would be influenced by foreign manipulation or his personal wealth is exactly why the nation's Founders adopted the Foreign Emoluments Clause".

Legal scholars consulted by the congressional plaintiffs said their complaint is distinctive because of the special standing granted to Congress.

He said most presidents sold off or put in a blind trust assets that might put them in conflict.

Other reports by iNewsToday