The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia announced Monday they've filed a suit against President Trump, alleging he violated the Constitution by failing to sever ties to his business empire and accepting foreign payments while in office.
The June 12 lawsuit marks the first legal action taken against the president by state government officials for alleged violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses and claims that the president has used his position to boost his business enterprises.
The Attorneys General filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
The lawsuit said heavy spending by foreign diplomats and embassies at the Trump International Hotel just a few blocks from the White House, payments made by foreign entities at his Trump Tower and Trump International Tower in NY, and other business operations effectively violate the US Constitution's ban on presidents enriching themselves while in office.
Racine said the president has spoken about drawing a line between the presidency and his many businesses and properties, but he "has walked his promise back".
The attorney generals argue that the constitutional clause that deals with this issue intends to limit the potential for corrupting influences from foreign governments. Racine said he felt the need to sue the president to be the check and balance that it appears Congress is unwilling to be.
"The president's conflict of interests threaten our country", Frosh said.
The high-profile lawsuit claims that Trump is in violation of Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, the so-called Emoluments Clause.
The Justice Department sought dismissal of the lawsuit last week.
Trump's lawyers and the Department of Justice maintain that market-rate payments for goods and services at Trump's hotels, golf courses and the other businesses he owns are not "emoluments" as defined by the Constitution.
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"We know exactly what's going on every single day", said Racine, noting that he could see Trump's hotel in Washington from his office.
Trump has said he would put his assets in a trust to be managed by his sons. "The Domestic Emoluments Clause prevents individual states from competing against each other by giving the President money or other things of value", according to the Washington Post.
"The emoluments clauses are a firewall against presidential corruption", Frosh told journalists at a press conference in Washington on Monday.
The ranking Democrat of the House Judiciary Committee called Monday for a probe into President Trump over foreign payments to his Washington, D.C., hotel. "We can not treat a president's ongoing violations of the Constitution and disregard for the rights of the American people as the new and acceptable status quo".
A similar action by government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) was last week dismissed by a federal judge in NY. A nonprofit restaurant group and others have joined the suit since.
The attorneys general aren't the first to sue Trump over emoluments.
Their lawsuit says Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting profits from foreign governments for the use of his hotels, resorts and other properties.
So, his son Eric trump said that the President continues to receive regular information about the financial condition of the company.
The lawsuit focuses on the fact that the president opted to keep ownership of his businesses when he was elected.