A major lawsuit is expected to be filed today by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland against President Donald Trump. At issue will be Trump’s continuous violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.
D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh alleged in the lawsuit to be filed that “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump. The suit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business empire has rendered the president “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors” and has undermined the integrity of the U.S. political system. Fundamental to a president’s fidelity to [faithfully execute his oath of office] is the Constitution’s demand that the president … disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and foreign powers. Never before has a president acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription.”
According to many constitutional law experts, the lawsuit has good legal standing and Maryland and Washington, D.C., have been described as the “most perfect plaintiffs” by Norman Eisen, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama and is board chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a D.C.-based watchdog group. CREW filed a lawsuit in regard to the emoluments clause in January 2017 when Trump was sworn in as president.
The emoluments clause states in part: “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.”
Because of Trump’s continuing business dealings, especially with his Trump-branded string of hotels, Maryland and D.C. allege that his company has an unfair advantage over competing businesses. In addition, foreign governments have changed their reservations and event planning to Trump-branded hotels. In Washington, DC Trump was in violation of a lease clause for the Trump International Hotel, which is federal property managed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The clause stated that no elected official could remain on the lease, however, an exception was made when Trump increased the budget of the GSA.
Although Trump stated that he would divest himself of interests with his global business empire he still receives regular updates from his son, Eric, about the company status. The lawsuit further describes Trump’s activities as “unprecedented constitutional violations” and as having the potential of coming before the U.S. Supreme Court.