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'Unprecedented violations': states sue Trump for not separating business ties

'Unprecedented violations': states sue Trump for not separating business ties

The Attorney-Generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia plan to file a lawsuit alleging that foreign payments to US President Donald Trump's businesses violate the constitution, according to a source familiar with the situation. Just days after Trump's inauguration in January, the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of NY.

The White House said Monday the president's business interests do not violate the Emoluments Clause, and that the lawsuit is nothing more than blatantly partisan politics.

Maryland and the district also argue that they themselves are being harmed economically - because their businesses have to compete with Trump's, and because their governments face pressure to provide Trump with permits and tax breaks.

The lawsuit, obtained by the Post, from Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh - both Democrats - alleges that Mr. Trump committed "unprecedented constitutional violations".

"Again, the reason why we're here is because the President of the United States, in a wholly unprecedented fashion, has made a decision to maintain a sprawling worldwide business empire that accepts money without account from foreign governments", Mr Racine said.

The suit was reportedly field in the US District Court for the District of Maryland. Racine and Frosh believe the tax returns will be the first step in establishing the extent of Trump's involvement in foreign business dealings, but the pair said the fight will likely end up in the Supreme Court.




Mr Trump has apparently received millions of dollars from foreign entities in last six months as payments on properties his company owns.

"The president is bound by oath to "faithfully execute" his office and 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States", the lawsuit says, and the president must "disentangle his private finances" from domestic or foreign powers to honor that oath. "No one, not even the president can be allowed to endanger our democracy and erode our faith in our institutions", Racine said.

The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Trump announced in January that he would hand his business over to his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and to Alan Weisselberg - a longtime Trump business executive - through a financial trust, in an effort to eliminate potential conflicts of interests. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, has an emoluments lawsuit pending against Trump in Manhattan, and the group's lawyers are serving as unpaid outside counsel in the case brought by Frosh and Racine. The president called an earlier, similar lawsuit about the emoluments issue "without merit, totally without merit".

"We have economic interests that are impacted", they said. For example, officials from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Georgia have chosen to direct their business to Trump's D.C. hotel. Racine said he felt the need to sue the president to be the check and balance that it appears Congress is unwilling to be.

"To attempt to individually track and distinctly attribute certain business-related costs as specifically identifiable to a particular customer group is not practical", the pamphlet states.


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