Responding to a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog group, the Justice Department wrote that revenue from foreign governments at Trump businesses would not constitute emoluments as defined in the Constitution.
“Neither the text nor the history of the Clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power,” the administration wrote.
“Were Plaintiffs’ interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited ‘emolument,’” the legal brief added.
Crew filed the suit against President Donald Trump in January, right after he was inaugurated. The group maintained that Trump violated the emoluments clause because his properties collect rent and receive other payments from foreign governments. As of result, the group argued that the president had made himself susceptible to pay for play politics, The Post reported.
The emoluments clause holds that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [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.”
The clause was included in the Constitution in order to ensure that the politicians could not create a conflict of interesti with foreign powers.