Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh speaks to the media about filing a lawsuit against U.S. President Donald Trump, on June 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.
The case by the two Democratic attorneys general is seen standing a better chance in court as the first government action over allegations that Trump, a Republican, violated the Constitution’s so-called emoluments clauses.
A Washington wine bar filed suit against Trump and his Trump International hotel in March, claiming that the president got an unfair business advantage because of the president’s association with the business, according to The New York Times. He also pointed out that as attorneys general; it is their responsibility to “serve as a check and balance against the President, whose activities have opened the door to the type of corruption the Framers of the Constitution aimed to prevent”.
The lawsuit also alleged Trump benefits from foreign distribution payments for his The Apprentice reality TV show and generally from the global real estate projects of the Trump Organization.
“If the Justice Department is correct, the emoluments clause has no meaning whatsoever“, said Frosh, the Maryland official.
Trump announced his intention in January to shift his business assets into a trust managed by his sons in an effort to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted that response at a White House press briefing.
“The suit alleges that President Trump is flagrantly violating the Constitution”, Racine told reporters on Monday. Therefore, the lawsuit seeks the directive to stop Trump from defying the Constitution but the final decision on what should be done lies with the court.
The complaint cites multiple cases of foreign diplomats and business executives staying in or holding events at the Trump hotel to curry favor with the president.
“This case is all about the right of Marylands, D.C.s and all American citizens to have an honest administration”, said Democrat Frosh to Washington Post. Many people consider the Chinese government’s move as a gift to the U.S. President and a conflict of interest.
Constitutional scholars debate whether or not the Emoluments Clause applies to the president, or to businesses owned by him.
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.
Specifically the lawsuit alleges President trump is in violation the emolument clauses which strictly forbids the president from taking compensation from foreign governments. No state has accused a president of violating the emoluments clause.
“The actions of the attorneys general represent the kind of partisan grandstanding voters across the country have come to despise”, Jancek said in a statement. A nonprofit restaurant group and others have joined the suit since.
Toobin said, “I’m extremely skeptical that this will lead to anything serious in terms of an impact on President Trump“.
Frosh and Racine allege Trump has received millions of dollars in payments, and violated the Constitution by allowing foreign governments to buy condominiums and rent hotel rooms in properties owned by Trump companies, including the hotel in Washington.