The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A group of prominent constitutional and ethics lawyers sued President Donald Trump on Monday, accusing him of violating the U.S. Constitution by letting his hotels and other businesses accept payments from foreign governments.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington contended that Trump is “submerged in conflicts of interest” because of ties with countries such as China, India, and potentially Russia.

It seeks to stop Trump from accepting any improper payments, citing a constitutional provision known as the “emoluments” clause that bans them.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Lewis & Bockius, a law firm representing the president on ethics matters, said: “We do not comment on our clients or the work we do for them.”

The lawsuit is part of a wave of litigation expected from liberal advocacy groups against Trump, a Republican who took office on Friday.

On Jan. 11, Trump said he would retain ownership of his global business empire while president, but hand off day-to-day control to his oldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr..

Sheri Dillon, a partner at Morgan Lewis and a Trump adviser, at the time said profit generated at Trump’s hotels from foreign governments would be donated to the U.S. Treasury.

But the plaintiff said Trump’s refusal to cede ownership or set up a blind trust has resulted in conflicts of interest that leave him “poised” to violate the Constitution repeatedly while in the White House.

The emoluments clause forbids Trump and other U.S. officeholders from accepting various gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval.

According to the complaint, that means payments by foreign governments for such things as leases at Trump Tower in New York, stays at Trump’s hotels, rounds at Trump’s golf courses, and the rights to rebroadcast or create their own versions of Trump’s reality TV show “The Apprentice” are illegal.

The lawsuit said the Constitution’s framers intended to ban such payments, believing that “private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders, and entanglements between American officials and foreign powers could pose a creeping, insidious threat to the Republic.”

China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom are among the countries with which Trump’s companies do or plan to do business, and Trump had been trying to do business with Russia for at least three decades, the complaint said.

The lawsuit also alleged that payments next month from a Washington hotel booking by the Embassy of Kuwait for its “National Day” celebration “will go directly to defendant while he is president.”

To justify its standing to sue, the plaintiff said it has been “significantly injured” by having to divert resources to the lawsuit, and field hundreds of media questions about Trump’s businesses.

Among the lawyers who worked on the complaint were constitutional scholars Laurence Tribe, from Harvard University, and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California at Irvine’s law school.

Others include Richard Painter, who was a White House ethics lawyer under former Republican President George W. Bush.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

MAGA Children's Books

The GOP descent into full-blown conspiracy and fascist hell has not gone unnoticed as of late. With the right-wing dominated Supreme Court poised to finally overturn Roe V Wade and 2022 races focusing on backing Republicans who support Trump's 2020 election lies, democracy and decency are all but dead and Democrats are going to have to turn out big in the midterms to prevent a GOP takeover over the House or Senate.

But while the focus of progressive ire has been over the GOP's assault on reproductive rights, Republicans have also been waging a war on facts and education quite well. After all, they need their voters nice and ignorant to remain in power. Book banning and, sickeningly, book burning is a thing for the GOP in the year 2022. The state of Tennessee, for example, is banning books. In fact, a psychotic trump zealot pastor led an actual book-burning event.

Keep reading... Show less

Pat McCrory

Youtube Screenshot

If former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is any indication, the GOP primary wounds wrought in the last several months stand a good chance of bleeding into the general election this fall.

McCrory, who lost his bid Tuesday to become the Republican nominee for the Tar Heel State's open Senate seat, declined to endorse his GOP rival, Rep. Ted Budd, the Trump endorsee.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}