Speed Reads

trump empire

Maryland, D.C. to sue Trump over 'disregard for' the Constitution

Attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia are suing President Trump over "unprecedented constitutional violations" related to Trump's decision to retain ownership of his businesses while in office, The Washington Post reports.

The suit, brought by D.C.'s Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland's Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, cites the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution, which prevent any "person 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" as well as forbids the president from receiving gifts from states unless approved by Congress. "Never before has a president acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription," the attorneys general wrote.

On Friday, the Department of Justice argued against a similar lawsuit, brought in January by a watchdog group, claiming "Trump's businesses are legally permitted to accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office," The Washington Post writes. "The filing held up the lack of past complaints — going all the way back to farm produce sold abroad by George Washington — to assert that market-rate payments for Trump's real estate, hotel and golf companies do not constitute emoluments as defined by the Constitution."

But Racine and Frosh argue that the president must strictly follow the emoluments clauses to "ensure that Americans do not have to guess whether a president who orders their sons and daughters to die in foreign lands acts out of concern for his private business interests; they do not have to wonder if they lost their job due to trade negotiations in which the president has a personal stake; and they never have to question whether the president can sit across the bargaining table from foreign leaders and faithfully represent the world's most powerful democracy, unencumbered by fear of harming his own companies."

If the case is allowed to proceed, Racine and Frosh say they will demand Trump's personal tax returns in order to review the extent of his profiting off foreign dealings. "That fight would most likely end up before the Supreme Court, the two said, with Trump's attorneys having to defend why the returns should remain private," The Washington Post adds. Read the full report here.