The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia on Monday sued President Donald Trump, accusing the commander-in-chief of violating a constitutional anti-corruption clause that bars him from accepting money from foreign governments, according to multiple reports.
According to a copy of the suit obtained by The Washington Post, the president is accused of “unprecedented constitutional violations” due to his ownership of a “global business empire.” An attorney for Trump said in January that the president was resigning from the Trump Organization and handing leadership over to his sons to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The suit, which was filed Monday morning in federal court in Maryland, claims Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clause, which bars anyone “holding any office of profit or trust” from accepting “any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state.”
Among other things, officials pointed to state-funded stays and events at Trump hotels by officials of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Georgia.
“Never before has a president acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription,” the suit said.
The Republican National Committee in a statement called the lawsuit “absurd.”
“The actions of the attorneys general represent the kind of partisan grandstanding voters across the country have come to despise,” RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Jancek said. “The American people elected President Trump to lead this country, and it is time Democrats end their efforts to delegitimize his presidency.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl A. Racine, both Democrats told The Post they planned to ask for copies of Trump’s personal tax returns as part of discovery, a release that Trump has adamantly and consistently pushed against.
They asked for an injunction barring Trump from accepting foreign money.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind brought by government entities, according to The Post.
It is at least the third filed by groups and businesses worried that Trump might be profiting personally from his presidency.
A suit similar to the one expected from Maryland and D.C. was filed in January by government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, CNN reported. A Washington wine bar filed suit against Trump and his Trump International hotel in March, claiming that the president got an unfair business advantage because of the president’s association with the business, according to The New York Times.
In a 70-page brief Friday, the Justice Department asked a judge to dismiss the case filed by CREW, arguing that the emoluments clause doesn’t apply to “fair-market commercial transactions” such as those paid to stay at Trump hotels or play at Trump golf clubs, Bloomberg reported.