Attorneys general from the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia are suing President Donald Trump, claiming the president has accepted millions of dollars in payments and benefits from foreign governments – which is a violation of anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution.
In their lawsuit filed on Monday, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) focus on the fact that Trump has retained ownership of his company since taking office. In January, Trump said he was in the processes of shifting his business assets into a trust managed by his sons to avoid conflict of interest.
However, according to Racine and Frosh Trump has not done enough to adequately distance himself from his business and their ongoing financial health. His son, Eric Trump, has also said the president is regularly updated on his company’s financial doings.
“Never in the history of this country have we had a president with these kinds of extensive business entanglements or a president who refused to adequately distance themselves from their holdings,” said D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine in a news conference on Monday. “President Trump’s business and his dealings violate the constitution’s anti-corruption provisions.”
“The president, above all other elected officials, must have only the interest of Americans at the heart of every decision,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.
According to The Washington Post, the constitutional question that Racine and Frosh will put before a federal judge is whether Trump’s business holdings amount to violations of parts of the Constitution known as the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses.
The emoluments clause, outlined in Article I of the Constitution, states that “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Essentially, the clause was designed to prevent corruption and influence from foreign governments over United States government officials.
Frosh and Racine’s lawsuit is the is the first lawsuit filed by government entities against Trump’s business interests. On Monday, Lindsay Jancek a spokeswoman for the RNC issued a statement calling the lawsuit “absurd” and said President Trump has been committed to complete transparency and compliance with the law.
The full statement reads: “This lawsuit brought against our president is absurd. From day one, President Trump has been committed to complete transparency and compliance with the law. The actions of the attorneys general represent the kind of partisan grandstanding voters across the country have come to despise. The American people elected President Trump to lead this country, and it is time Democrats end their efforts to delegitimize his presidency.”
However, Frosh and Racine see it differently. They believe that they are simply doing their job as Americans by holding the president accountable. At the core of their lawsuit, Racine and Frosh are fighting for the rights of Americans to have honest government.
“This case is, at its core, about the right of Marylanders, residents of the District of Columbia and all Americans to have honest government,” Frosh said.
The suit is seeking an injunction to force Trump to stop violating the Constitution but leaves it up to the court to decide how that should be accomplished. You can watch Frosh and Racine’s press conference in full below and read the lawsuit in its entirety here.