Plans to sue President Trump over allegedly taking foreign government payments

The Attorney-Generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia plan to file a lawsuit alleging that foreign payments to US President Donald Trump's businesses violate the constitution, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Since then, a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry joined as plaintiffs.

According to Racine, the lawsuit shows that state attorney generals can also serve as a check on executive power.

"Again, the reason why we're here is because the president of the United States, in a wholly unprecedented fashion, has made a decision to maintain a sprawling worldwide business empire that accepts money without account from foreign governments", Racine said.

Spicer says the president's interests "do not violate the emoluments clause" and he pointed to the fact that both AGs are Democrats.

The lawsuit, first reported by The Washington Post, comes months after state lawmakers in Annapolis gave Frosh broad authority to bypass the governor and sue the federal government on a range of issues.

The Justice Department sought dismissal of the lawsuit last week. "That is the indispensable foundation of a democracy", said Attorney General Frosh.

Can states force President Trump to sell off his businesses?

Trump's unique status as both president and the financial beneficiary of his global business empire raised questions about the emoluments clause of the Constitution even before he took office.


U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump arrive at the White House June 11, 2017 in Washington, DC.

The president has called references to his alleged violation to the Emoluments Clause "without merit, totally without merit".

Maryland and the U.S. capital sued President Donald Trump saying he is breaking laws by raking in money from foreign governments and businesses at his luxury hotels and office towers. It comes amid investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller III of conspiracy between Trump associates and the Russian government during the presidential campaign a year ago.

The lawsuit also asserts that since Trump chose to maintain his financial interests in his global business empire, he is committing "unprecedented constitutional violations" by accepting those payments.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington.

When taking office, Trump broke with many presidential traditions, including putting assets into a blind trust to avoid conflict of interests.

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine told reporters that foreign governments are already spending money at Trump properties to curry favor with Trump.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and his D.C. counterpart, Karl Racine, also vowed to wrest from Trump financial and tax records that he has thus far refused to reveal so they can find out whether he is cashing in on the Presidency. It rests on the "Emoluments Clause", an 18th century provision in the Constitution that was aimed at keeping European royalty from corrupting American ambassadors with expensive gifts, and has never been fully tested in court.

The Post cited examples of foreign government showing preference for that hotel over others, at what neighboring Maryland and Washington say is their expense.

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