Nearly 200 Democrats sue Trump for violating emoluments clause of Constitution

The pressure campaign from Democrats comes as China approves 9 previously rejected Trump trademarks

Published June 14, 2017 5:25PM (EDT)

 (AP/Evan Vucci/Getty/Gabriella Demczuk/Photo montage by Salon)
(AP/Evan Vucci/Getty/Gabriella Demczuk/Photo montage by Salon)

Nearly 200 Congressional Democrats filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump on Wednesday claiming that "by retaining interests in a global business empire he has violated constitutional restrictions on taking gifts and benefits from foreign leaders."

The Washington Post reported that Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said on Tuesday that the lawsuit includes more plaintiffs than any lawsuit ever filed against a president — 196.

The legal complaint states that under the Constitution's "foreign emoluments clause" the president must first seek "the consent of Congress" before accepting gifts from foreign governments, according to the Post who viewed an advanced copy. On Monday it was also reported that the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington D.C. are also suing Trump over alleged violations of the emoluments clause.

"The Framers of our Constitution gave members of Congress the responsibility to protect our democracy from foreign corruption by determining which benefits the president can and cannot receive from a foreign state," Erwin Chemerinsky, the incoming dean of the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, told the Post.

"When the president refuses to reveal which benefits he is receiving — much less obtain congressional consent before accepting them — he robs these members of their ability to perform their constitutional role," Chemerinsky added. Congressional lawmakers . . . have a duty to preserve the constitutional order in the only way they can: by asking the courts to make the President obey the law."

While no Republicans have signed on up to this point, they have been invited to do so, Sen. Blumenthal told the Post.

The White House has not issued a statement on the lawsuit as of yet, but press secretary Sean Spicer said that it's "not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations," regarding the attorneys general lawsuit, according to the Post.

Former ethics czar Norm Eisen told Salon recently that Eric and Don Trump Jr.'s new hotel expenditure should "alarm" every American. Eisen believes that there are major constitutional concerns with the president failing to remove himself from his real estate empire.

On the same day the lawsuit was filed by Congressional Democrats, China approved nine Trump trademarks, despite previously denying them. After dining with the Chinese President Xi Jinping erlier this year, Ivanka Trump also earned three new trademarks for the family business.

By Charlie May

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