Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Congressional Democrats sue Trump over foreign payments

Congressional Democrats sue Trump over foreign payments

196 Democratic members of Congress have filed suit against President Donald Trump for alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, Reuters reports.

Almost 200 Democrats in the US Congress have joined forces to file a legal case against President Donald Trump over receipt of payments from foreign governments via his businesses. Specifically, they accuse Trump of improperly accepting payments from foreign governments through his business interests, arguing that this is a violation of the Constitution's once-obscure emoluments clause.

Frosh argues in part that Maryland is losing tax revenue because hotels in the state must compete with the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington - a property the suit alleges has drawn increased business from foreign governments because its owner works down the road in the Oval Office.

Anti-corruption advocates have said Trump's holdings raise several ethical questions.

Although Trump turned over control of his real estate development, management and marketing company to his adult sons and a senior executive, he did not divest from it.

The issue at hand is Trump's vast global business empire and the fact that Trump chose to retain ownership of his company when he became president.

Congress directed Van Buren to deposit the items with the State Department, the complaint said, and to sell any items that could not "conveniently be deposited or kept" there and give the proceeds to the U.S. Treasury.

Last week, a group of Democratic members of Congress said they also planned to file suit soon.

The suit says Trump is taking foreign government payments most notably through his luxury hotel in Washington, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from Saudi Arabia alone. The trademark applications were approved and processed more quickly because of Trump's status as president, the suit says.

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A public-relations firm hired by Saudi Arabia, which Trump visited on his first trip overseas as president, spent more than $270,000 on rooms, meals and parking at Trump's hotel. "Indeed, he has taken the position that the Foreign Emoluments Clause does not require him to obtain such approval before accepting benefits arising out of exchanges between foreign states and his businesses".

Spokesman Sean Spicer said that "partisan politics" could be behind the lawsuit of the attorneys general.

We can not have a president profiting from foreign governments.

"As a result, they wrote the emoluments clause of the Constitution with language "both sweeping and unqualified,"' the lawmakers" lawsuit says".

"In the emoluments clauses, we have these ancient air bags that were placed in the Constitution by the framers that are now being deployed", Eisen said.

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) stated earlier this month that they do not hold the power to investigate whether Trump is violating the Constitution or not and that it is something that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has to look into.

"President Trump has conflicts of interest in at least 25 countries, and it appears he's using his presidency to maximize his profits", Conyers stated.

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

The lawsuit asks the court for an injunction blocking Trump from accepting foreign money.

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