Almost 200 Democrats In Congress Sue Trump

Almost 200 Democrats In Congress Sue Trump

Almost 200 Democrats In Congress Sue Trump

The new suit - the third of its kind - said the full scope of foreign payments to the Trump Organization can not be known because the president has not made public his tax returns.

The emoluments clause states that no one holding federal office shall "without the consent of Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state". Were plaintiffs' interpretation correct, presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited "emoluments".

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is filing the suit in federal district court and is joined by 196 other congressional members as plaintiffs.

In a similar lawsuit filed in January by a Washington government-watchdog group, lawyers for the Justice Department said history shows the emoluments clause doesn't apply to fair-market transactions, including hotel bills, golf club fees and office rents, like those in which Trump is engaged.

While the chance of success is slim, the lawsuit seeks to shine a light on Trump's personal tax returns to assess the magnitude of his foreign business dealings.

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SEAN SPICER: The president's interests do not violate the Emoluments Clause.

In the suit lawmakers alleged that Trump's acceptance of payments and emoluments of U.S. and foreign governments through hospitality estates, places other owners of hotels and restaurants at a disadvantage.

Trump made a decision to maintain ownership of his company - the Trump Organization - after becoming president but announced in January that he would hand it over to his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump through a financial trust, in an effort to address concerns of potential conflicts of interest. He added that Congress can not approve what it does not know.

The lawsuit followed an earlier similar complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed on January 23 in NY federal district court.

President Trump is facing a constitutional challenge. The Trump Organization has said it will make payments at the end of the year. And Maryland's attorney general says that state's National Harbor resort - just across the river from Washington - also faces unfair competition.

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The Constitution does not require Congress to seek information about any benefits the President may be receiving from other countries - rather, the President must come to Congress to disclose any foreign gifts or payments and to obtain permission before accepting them.

Spicer noted that the lawsuits are being brought by Democrats.

Because President Trump has refused to disclose his business dealings overseas, the full scope of his potential Constitutional violations is unknown.

The attorneys general cite the emoluments clause of the Constitution which has never before been heard by the Supreme Court or federal courts.

"The framers were so attuned to the threat that corruption poses to a working democracy that they wrote anti-corruption measures into the nation's foundational document", said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman.

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