Democrats suing Trump over all those foreign government payments

Over 100 Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate are preparing to sue Donald Trump for violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments. Politico reports the lawsuit will be filed as soon as next week.

The suit targets Trump’s refusal to divest from the Trump Organization, which owns gaudy hotels, resorts, restaurants, and real estate around the world. Despite #45’s claim before inauguration that placing his holdings in a trust would sufficiently distance himself from the corporation, so as not to exploit it for personal gain, reports show that Trump can withdraw profits or assets from the trust at any time, and Donald Jr. is still sharing business reports with his dad.

Trump has promised that any payments from foreign officials would be donated to the Treasury Department, which sounds chill, except for the fact that the Trump Organization isn’t tracking those payments.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics sued Trump in January over the same concerns. CARE has struggled to prove standing, however, and in April added Restaurant Opportunities Centers, an association of more than 200 restaurants, as a co-plaintiff, claiming the allure of access to Trump sufficiently injures their business prospects.

Democrats in Congress believe they have more constitutionally explicit standing to sue. Senior House Judiciary member Jerry Nadler explains, via Politico:

““Members of Congress we say have standing because the emoluments clause says without the permission of Congress, you can’t accept any gift, etc., etc., from a foreign state,” Nadler said. “We are injured by being denied our right to vote on this, that’s our standing.”

Nadler admits we’re wading into unprecedented levels of presidential corruption, so it’s tough to say how this argument will play in court. “There is almost no litigation on this since the Constitution was established … because no one has ever violated this the way we think Trump has,” Nadler said.

According to Nadler’s latest count, 78 House Democrats and 25 Democratic senators have signed on in support of the suit. The nonprofit Constitutional Accountability Center is leading the case.

[Politico | photo: Getty]