On Monday, the Democratic attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland filed a lawsuit claiming President Donald Trump’s failure to discard his businesses has violated constitutional bans against self-dealing and undermined public trust.
The complaint is similar to a lawsuit filed in April by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics or CREW, which included many of the same arguments. However, legal experts believe that the new lawsuit could very well advance farther for the reason that the plaintiffs are government entities, which could potentially have a stronger standing to bring legal charges against the president.The new lawsuit is part of a much broader, coordinated effort by President Trump’s critics to push him into defending his continued involvement in his private business empire. A third lawsuit should to be filed as early as this week. The complainants, several congressional Democrats, allege that President Trump’s behavior is unconstitutional.
The Constitution specifically prohibits all federal officials from accepting emoluments or gifts from foreign governments. The Constitution also prohibits the president from accepting emoluments and economic benefits from state and federal governments, other than his salary.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said if the lawsuit advanced to the discovery phase, he and the District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine would attempt to obtain President Trump’s tax returns to determine the scope of his business dealings. “It is unprecedented that the American people must question day after day whether decisions are made and actions are taken to benefit the United States or to benefit Donald Trump,” Frosh said. “The president’s conflicts of interest threaten our democracy.”