NORTHAM: Attorney General Racine says Trump's continued ownership in his global business entangles him with foreign governments who may try to gain favor with the president by staying at one of his hotels or resorts, a direct violation of the constitutional Emoluments Clause.
The lawsuit says despite billionaire Trump having placed his extensive business holdings in a trust after he was elected president, he still owns the properties and is well-aware of the money they are earning him.
On Monday, the District of Columbia government and the Maryland state government filed suit claiming that the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., competes unfairly with government-owned conference centers in the area.
The Trump Organization has said it will donate profits from customers representing foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury but will not require the customers to identify themselves.
DC's AG Karl Racine and a spokesman for the US Department of Justice could not immediately be reached.
Democratic attorneys general have taken a lead role in challenging Trump policies, successfully blocking executive orders restricting travel from some Muslim-majority countries.
However, the two attorney generals argue there are "unprecedented constitutional violations" by Trump and that both Washington D.C. and Maryland are being adversely affected by the Trump International Hotel near the White House.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday rejected the claim that Trump's business interests violated the Constitution and said "partisan politics" were behind the lawsuit.
They said the fight would likely end up before the Supreme Court.
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The Justice Department declined to comment.
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 US political system, the lawsuit claimed. Trump is usually seen at the hotel interacting with the guests.
The Justice Department on Friday said that those plaintiffs lack the legal standing to sue because they can not properly explain or allege the particular harm caused by the Trump's businesses.
He further said that this position puts the district in a "unique position" to file a lawsuit over the emoluments clause because they suffered harm.
"The president's conflicts of interest threaten our democracy".
In New York, Trump Tower leases space to the Chinese government-controlled bank ICBC, and Trump World Tower and other properties also focus on foreign clients, including Russians, it said.
The lawsuit also asserts that since Trump chose to maintain his financial interests in his global business empire, he is committing "unprecedented constitutional violations" by accepting those payments.
"The president can stand over here with his president of the United States hat and he's not allowed to take payments".