Two attorneys general will file a lawsuit against the US president for violating anti-corruption laws, claiming foreign payments made to Trump’s businesses are in violation of the US constitution.
The suit by the Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general will be filed on Monday. It accuses Trump of violating the emoluments clause, which bars the president from accepting gifts from foreign governments without approval from Congress.
DC Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh accuse Trump of breaking promises to separate his private business interests from his public duties, including Trump receiving regular updates about his companies’ finances.
“No person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state,” Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the constitution reads.
Trump has retained ownership of his hotels and other businesses, which the suit claims, in effect, constitutes Trump receiving payment from foreign governments like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which have booked rooms or venues at Trump hotels.
“This case is, at its core, about the right of Marylanders, residents of the District of Columbia and all Americans to have honest government,” Frosh said.
Racine and Frosh will demand Trump’s tax returns as part of the discovery phase of the case.
The attorneys general pointed to a number of examples of how Trump’s DC hotel has affected both districts. The Embassy of Kuwait held an event there after it had originally booked the Four Seasons. Saudi Arabia booked rooms at the hotel on more than one occasion.
The Trump International Hotel took in about $270,000 in payments tied to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Justice Department filings revealed. Trump Organization officials responded by saying it would donate the profits at the end of the year.
MSL Group Americas, a PR firm working for the Saudis and Bahrain, reported paying more than $190,200 for accommodation, $78,204 for catering and roughly $1,600 for parking at the Trump International Hotel.
Some of this was part of a campaign to encourage US veterans to lobby against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, as reported by Eyes On Events in March.
This is the second such lawsuit that Trump is facing. The first was filed in January by a restaurant group, a hotel events booker and an ethics non-profit.
It accuses the president of violating the emoluments clause through payments made by diplomats and foreign government officials to Trump’s hotels and golf courses.
On Friday, the Justice Department said the plaintiffs of the January suit don’t have legal standing to sue as they cannot allege enough harm caused by Trump’s businesses and hotel revenue does not match the definition of improper payment.
The DOJ argued the foreign emoluments clause doesn’t apply to fair-market commercial transactions and asked a judge to throw the suit out.