Attorneys general to sue over foreign payments to Trump hotels, sources say

The attorney generals of Maryland and Columbia plan to file a lawsuit that foreign payments to President Trump violate the U.S. Constitution, according to reports.The District of Columbia’s Karl Racine and Maryland’s Brian Frosh held a joint news conference Monday in Washington, confirming the suit filed in a Maryland court.In court documents, D.C. and Maryland allege Trump has committed “unprecedented constitutional violations” stemming from his decision to retain ownership of his worldwide business empire, “which renders him deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors”.The lawsuit, which comes days after the Justice Department defended Trump’s business empire from accepting foreign payments in a separate, similar case, alleges that the president has violated the Emoluments Clause by accepting millions of dollars in payments on properties his company owns. “But the most salient factor is that when the president is subject to foreign influence, we have to be concerned about whether the actions he’s taking – both at home and overseas – are the result of payments that he is receiving at the Trump Hotel and other businesses”, Frosh said. “No president has had the kind of business entanglement with foreign governments like Donald Trump”. He continues to seek – and in fact recently obtained from China – valuable trademarks from foreign countries for his business ventures.Frosh called the Justice Department’s argument “remarkable” and said: “If the justice department is right, the emoluments clause has no meaning whatsoever“.Just days after his inauguration in January, government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of NY.Racine said he felt obligated to file suit against Trump in part because the Republican-controlled Congress has not taken the president’s apparent conflicts seriously.Didn’t Trump step away from his businesses?”From day one, President Trump has been committed to complete transparency and compliance with the law”, RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Jancek said in a statement.White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Trump’s “interests do not violate the Emoluments Clause” and said partisan politics in behind this lawsuit.It is at least the third filed by groups and businesses anxious that Trump might be profiting personally from his presidency.Jancek also says the American people elected Trump president, and that it’s time Democrats “end their efforts to delegitimize his presidency”. He has handed day-to-day operations over to his two adult sons, but he’s still profiting from his businesses.The Saudis spent $270,000 at Trump’s hotel while lobbying against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would allow US citizens to sue other governments for terrorist attacks. They also said local hospitality companies, including state-owned facilities, are being harmed.Activists project phrases and the emoluments clause on the Trump International Hotel in Washington on May. 15.