The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, DC, filed suit [complaint, PDF] Monday against US President Donald Trump, alleging that he has violated the constitution by accepting payments and gifts from foreign governments while in office. The suit claims that by retaining ownership of and involvement in his company, Trump is in violation of the foreign and domestic emoluments [text] clauses of the US Constitution. According to the complaint:
President Trump’s continued ownership interest in a global business empire, which renders him deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors, violates the Constitution and calls into question the rule of law and the integrity of the country’s political system. Whatever the sincerity of the persons involved, foreign and domestic officials are put in the position of considering whether offering benefits to businesses associated with the President is important to maintaining goodwill. And irrespective of whether such benefits affect the President’s decision-making or shift his foreign or domestic policy, uncertainty about whether the President is acting in the best interests of the American people, or rather for his own ends or personal enrichment, inflicts lasting harm on our democracy. The Framers of the Constitution foresaw that possibility, and acted to prevent that harm.
The suit, filed in Maryland federal court, seeks an injunction to bar the president from further constitutional violations.
This is the third such suit filed against the president, but the first by a government entity. In January the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] claiming Trump’s continued business dealings violate the emoluments clause. And in March a DC restaurant filed suit, claiming a new Trump hotel is unfair competition. Last week a group of Democratic lawmakers said they plan to file suit as well.