Politics

Trump Faces Lawsuit Over Business Ties

| by Michael Doherty

Maryland and the District of Columbia have filed lawsuits against President Donald Trump for failing to let go of ties to his private businesses once he took office.

The suit, which was filed in a Maryland federal court, argues that the president's continued relationship with his businesses has gone against constitutional rules against self-dealing, and violated trust from the public, according to The New York Times.

The suit was filed by the attorney generals of Maryland and Washington, D.C., Brian Frosh and Karl Racine, respectively, The Inquisitr reports.

The emoluments clause of the constitution forbids federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign governments, and would also not allow Trump to benefit economically from the government, outside of the salary he earns from being president.

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The lawsuit argues that Trump's continued relationship with his businesses may indicate that he is making decisions with "self-interested motivations grounded in the international and domestic business dealings in which [his] personal fortune is at stake."

In January, Trump faced a similar lawsuit from a D.C. watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Trump said that he had "isolated" himself from his business dealings, handing over "complete and total" control of the Trump Organization to his sons. It was later reported that Trump would receive updates about his businesses regularly, including financial information.

"Fundamental to a President's fidelity to [faithfully execute his oath of office] is the Constitution's demand that the President ... disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and foreign powers," says the new lawsuit. "Never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription."

The suit argues that Trump has diverted customers away from businesses owned or licensed to the cities of Maryland and D.C., citing Washington's Trump International Hotel as a competitor to convention facilities that D.C. owns. The suit also cites a resort in Maryland from which the state collects tax revenue.

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According to Racine and Frosh, Trump has abused his position in the government to bring more business to his hotels, including business from foreign diplomats, leaving Maryland and D.C. at a disadvantage.

"We’re getting in here to be the check and balance that it appears Congress is unwilling to be," said Racine. "We're bringing suit because the president has not taken adequate steps to separate himself from his business interests."

"This case is, at its core, about the right of Marylanders, residents of the District of Columbia and all Americans to have honest government," said Frosh. "The emoluments clauses command that ... the president put the country first and not his own personal interest first."

Sources: The New York Times, The Inquisitr / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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