It is the beginning of a new week and also the beginning of a new legal battle for President Trump. The attorney generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia have planned to file a lawsuit alleging that foreign payments to the president’s businesses violated the U.S. Constitution, according to a source familiar with the circumstances. This new lawsuit will coincide with a similar lawsuit brought in January by other plaintiffs including an ethics nonprofit group. The new case, brought by two attorney generals, would almost certainly stand a better chance in court. The allegation is that Trump violated the Constitution’s so-called emoluments clause.
Democratic attorney generals have created havoc for President Trump and his policies. They have successfully blocked executive orders restricting travel from some Muslim-majority countries. They have resisted efforts to roll back environmental regulations and insurance subsidies under Obamacare.
Both Attorney Generals filed suit today and here is what they said:
Maryland AG on suit against president: Trump "understands the value of walls. This is one he can’t climb over” https://t.co/wmcqDp7wnz
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) June 12, 2017
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 12, 2017
The January case filed in federal court in Manhattan was initiated by the non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics. The lawsuit alleges that Trump violated the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause which bar him from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval. At issue is the fact that Trump maintains ownership over his business empire even though he has relinquished day-to-day control to his sons.
The suit, driven by companies such as Hotel Bookers, argues that they are injured when foreign governments try to “curry favor” with Trump by doing business with his enterprises. The Justice Department argued on Friday that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue because they could not allege enough specific harm caused by Trump’s businesses. The department also said that the Trump hotel revenue doesn’t fit the definition of an improper payment under the Constitution. The emoluments clause is intended to cover personal services performed by the president.
The attorney general from D.C. has said previously that because his district has suffered particular harm because it subsidized the construction of hotels that have been significantly impacted by payments to Trump properties. Their lawsuit may have alleged enough “harm” to proceed.
Do you think this new lawsuit threat holds water?