D.C. and Maryland to sue Trump for ‘unprecedented constitutional violations’

In less than five months, Donald Trump has already set the record for gouging the most dough out of the presidency, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia allege in a lawsuit announced Monday.

The two states are suing Trump for violating the constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits a public official from taking payments or gifts from foreign governments. For those counting, this is the third reported lawsuit filed against #45 for insufficiently detaching himself from the family business and milking the presidency for business opportunity like it’s a drought. Nonprofit watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and congressional Democrats are each separately suing POTUS for the same constitutional violation.

The suit claims Trump’s short time in office has been historically corrupt. Via The Washington Post:

The lawsuit, a signed copy of which Racine and Frosh provided to The Washington Post on Sunday night, alleges “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump. The suit says Trump’s continued ownership of a global business empire has rendered the president “deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors” and has undermined the integrity of the U.S. political system.

“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. Never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription.”

If a federal judge allows the case to proceed, the states plan to seek in discovery Trump’s personal tax returns, which he’s refused to share for some reason. Karl A. Racine and Brian E. Frosh, attorneys general for D.C. and Maryland respectively, told WaPo they expect the president to fight this request all the way to the Supreme Court.

“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.

On Friday the Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss CREW’s lawsuit by claiming foreign payments aren’t unconstitutional if they’re legal and market-rate. Here’s the gymnastics routine the DoJ performed to justify that argument:

The restaurants and hotels affiliated with the President are themselves market participants, rather than government agencies that can alter the market through regulation. Because the “case does not involve government action” by an agency with regulatory authority over the relevant market, the “doctrine of competitor standing has no bearing on this lawsuit.”

… No law of economics suggests that, in markets this diffuse and competitive, the restaurants and hotels affiliated with Plaintiffs will imminently lose business to the five restaurants and three hotels affiliated with the President in these two markets or will otherwise suffer a cognizable competitive injury because of those establishments.

No matter how diffuse and competitive the D.C. hospitality market, I’m pretty sure foreign ambassadors are choosing the Trump International Hotel because of its affiliation with the president, and his tendency to stop by. Receipts via WaPo (since the Trump Organization isn’t keeping track):

Embassy of Kuwait held an event at the hotel, switching its initial booking from the Four Seasons. Saudi Arabia, the destination of Trump’s first trip abroad, also booked rooms at the hotel through an intermediary on more than one occasion since Trump’s inauguration. Turkey held a state-sponsored event there last month. And in April, the ambassador of Georgia stayed at the hotel and tweeted his compliments. Trump himself has appeared at the hotel and greeted guests repeatedly since becoming president.

Yeah, definitely just a coincidence.

Watch the attorneys general announcement here.

[photo: Getty]