Nearly 200 Democratic Senators and House members have filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against US President Donald Trump for allegedly accepting foreign payments and gifts, breaching a clause of the Constitution. The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution [LII materials] prohibits any individual holding office from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” without the consent of Congress. Trump, who “has a financial interest in vast business holdings around the world that engage in dealings with foreign governments and receive benefits from those governments,” has admittedly “taken the position that the Foreign Emoluments Clause does not require him to obtain such approval before accepting benefits arising out of exchanges between foreign states and his
businesses.” Although Trump has given his adults sons control [BBC report] over his real estate empire and other assets, he has not taken the recommendation to sell them off to avoid any conflicts of interest. Lawyers for Trump have contended that the Emoluments Clause does not apply to payments, such as a bill for a hotel room, but instead is designed to prevent the acceptance of gifts and other considerations intended to coerce or influence policy decisions.
This is the fourth such suit filed against the president, and the second filed by a government entity. Earlier this week the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, DC, also filed suit [JURIST report] against Trump for breaching the Emoluments Clause. 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.