Department of Justice Lawyers (DOJ) argue the Emoluments Clause does not prevent Donald Trump from accepting payments from foreign governments.
Ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has a lawsuit against Trump claiming he violated the U.S. Constitution. In the lawsuit, CREW alleges that the sole reason foreign officials are doing business with Trump Properties is to gain favor with with the Trump administration. DOJ lawyers assert that the foreign emoluments clause does not apply to “fair-market commercial transactions” such as office rentals, hotel bills, and golf club fees.
As part of the lawsuit, CREW is also seeking to attain access to Trump’s tax returns and any financial records, according to Bloomberg.
“We did not want to get to this point. It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said.
“He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action.”
CREW builds further on their case by citing Chinese trademarks recently granted to Trump, as well as the fact that the federal government, still to this day, allows Trump to continue to lease his Washington Hotel despite the arguments that he is in violation of the lease.
“Never before have the people of the United States elected a president with business interests as vast, complicated and secret as those of President Donald J. Trump,” the group said in its amended complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. His “business interests are creating countless conflicts of interest, as well as unprecedented influence by foreign governments,” leading to “numerous” violations of the Constitution, according to the CREW complaint.
The full text of the Emoluments Clause reads:
[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them [i.e., the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Steven E. Johnson is a Mississippi-based author who covers social injustice and political issues for the Resistance Report. You can contact him at stevejlive at gmail dot com.