Maryland and D.C. file suit against Trump claiming emoluments clause violation
WASHINGTON D.C. – Attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia announced Monday that they are suing President Donald J, Trump for violating one of the U.S. Constitutions antcorruption clauses.
At a press conference Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a lawsuit against the president, citing his real estate properties – including the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. – and alleged business deals between foreign governments at the Trump Organization as evidence the president violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
The Emoluments Clause is a portion of the Constitution the states the president cannot receive a title of nobility from a foreign government or a salary other than the one Congress pays the president.
“I can tell as I look that as I look out the window and see the tower of the Trump International Hotel, we know exactly what’s going on every single day,” Racine said. “We know that foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favor with the President of the United States.”
Frosh said he hopes he gets copies of the president’s past tax returns, as part of the discovery process of the lawsuit.
“Well, we will be seeking the president’s financial information and including his tax returns,” Frosh said. “It’s information that every other president has provided the people of the United States.”
Frosh and Racine specifically mentioned $270,000 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid to the Trump International Hotel, while the country’s diplomats and foreign officers stayed in Washington, and the state-owned Industrial Commercial Bank of China, which has a lease at Trump Tower in New York City.
Racine said Trump changed his position on the “one-China policy,” an agreement that the U.S. and other countries recognize the People’s Republic of China with its capital in Beijing and not the Republic of China, located in Taiwan, as the legitimate government of China.
In addition, Racine and Frosh said the visits by foreign heads of state to Trump’s resort Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is being used to promote the estate, and the U.S. State Department has even advertised Mar-a-Lago on its website.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the president’s business interests do not violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause and the lawsuit, – filed by two Democratic Attorneys General – was politically motivated.
“It’s not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations, behind the scene,” Spicer said.
When asked if his motivations were political, Racine said suing Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause could also serve as a warning to future potential Democratic presidential candidates with large business interest such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and media mogul and former talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
In January the legal group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a similar lawsuit against Trump, alleging he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause. Attorneys from CREW helped the attorneys general from Maryland and the District in of Columbia in their suit, which they filed in U.S District Court in Greenbelt.
In addition, on Wednesday, 196 Congressional Democrats announced they were also filing a lawsuit against Trump also saying he violated the Emoluments Clause. Maryland senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen as well as congressmen Jamie Raskin (D-6), John Delaney (D-8) and John Sarbanes are a part of the lawsuit.