Donald Trump sued over president's business benefits


The attorneys general for Maryland and Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump, alleging that he violated the Constitution's anti-corruption clauses by accepting payments from foreign governments since taking office.

The June 12 lawsuit marks the first legal action taken against the president by state government officials for alleged violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses and claims that the president has used his position to boost his business enterprises.

The Maryland and D.C. attorneys general will seek an order in USA district court in Maryland preventing Trump from continuing to receive government payments beyond his salary.

The attorneys general also said states that provide zoning variances or tax breaks to a Trump business project could win favor at the White House, harming those that do not.

"Never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription." it says. Still, Democratic attorneys general have led the charge in challenging the president in court.

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"The Republican-controlled Congress has wholly serving as a check and balance on the president, and has thus far given the president a total pass on his business entanglements", Racine said.

The Justice Department asked a federal judge to dismiss the case on Friday.

Trump's lawyers maintain that market-rate payments for goods and services at Trump's hotels, golf courses and other businesses are not "emoluments" as defined by the Constitution. In other words, they must show that the people of D.C. and Maryland have been directly injured by Trump's continued ownership of businesses such as Trump Hotel.

Real estate billionaire Donald Trump has said in the past that he would transfer the management of his business in the hands of his sons, and that nobody cares about his taxes. Many people consider the Chinese government's move as a gift to the U.S. President and a conflict of interest. The president called an earlier, similar lawsuit about the emoluments issue "without merit, totally without merit".

However, the two attorney generals argue there are "unprecedented constitutional violations" by Trump and that both Washington D.C. and Maryland are being adversely affected by the Trump International Hotel near the White House.

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The framers of the Constitution, aiming to limit the potential for corrupting influences, included language declaring that "no person holding any office of profit or trust under (the United States), 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".

"We do not sue the president of the United States casually", Mr. Frosh said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit.

Yes. A government watchdog group sued him in NY in January for the exact same reasons. Since then, a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry have joined as plaintiffs.

The Trump Organization has said it will donate profits from customers representing foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury but will not require the customers to identify themselves. These provisions prohibit government officials to receive gifts or other bonuses from foreign governments.

Company policy detailed in a new pamphlet suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump's hotels, to determine whether foreign governments self-report their business dealings.

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Racine noted that the emoluments clause hasn't been tested by the Supreme Court or federal circuit courts.