Trump faces new lawsuit alleging he violated the Constitution

Posted June 15, 2017

The lawsuit, filed by DC attorney general Karl Racine and Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh in a Maryland federal court, alleges that Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the United States constitution by failing to relinquish ownership of his vast business holdings.

Donald Trump is facing lawsuits from the attorney generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia alleging the the US President committed "unprecedented constitutional violations" by refusing to sell off his businesses.

Racine said he and Frosh were supportive of CREW's lawsuit in NY, but that their case offered another chance to develop the record and the law.

The focus on Trump International Hotel stems in part from businesses in Washington and Maryland, some partly owned by the local governments, complaining that its link to the president effectively gives it an unfair competitive advantage.

Since then, a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry joined as plaintiffs. Furthermore, it prohibits the president from accepting gifts or emoluments from state governments. Frosh said the president has discussed some of his business dealings on the campaign trail, noting Trump's mention that a state-owned Chinese bank has office space in Trump Tower in NY. The Founding Fathers drafted the Emoluments Clauses to prevent elected officials from being influenced by either foreign or domestic wealthy actors.

Trump has said he would put his assets in a trust to be managed by his sons. However, Trump is yet to keep his promises of separating public mandates and business interests.

He told the company in a letter last month that Trump should either divest his ownership or get permission from Congress to accept all sources of foreign money if it's too hard to identify those payments. The president called an earlier, similar lawsuit about the emoluments issue "without merit, totally without merit".

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The White House cast the litigation as a political stunt, and said the president's business interests do not violate the Constitution.

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.

However, that fight would most likely end up before the Supreme Court, with Trump's attorneys having to defend why the returns should remain private, local media quoted the two as saying.

Attorneys General Racine and Frosh argued that Trump have injured and threaten to cause continuing injury to the State of Maryland and District of Columbia and their respective residents.

In a 70-page brief Friday, the Justice Department asked a judge to dismiss the case filed by CREW, arguing that the emoluments clause doesn't apply to "fair-market commercial transactions" such as those paid to stay at Trump hotels or play at Trump golf clubs, Bloomberg reported.

The Trump Organization has promised in the past to take steps to address some ethics concerns. The lawsuit fully intends to seek out Trump's unreleased tax returns.

During a press conference about the lawsuit Monday afternoon, Racine noted the view of the Trump International Hotel from his office window and said he knows exactly what's going on there.