A group of constitutional experts plan to file a lawsuit Monday that says President Donald Trump is violating an ethics clause in the Constitution by allowing his various businesses to accept payments from foreign government, the New York Times reports.
The provision, known as the Emoluments Clause, prohibits federal officials from accepting money or gifts from foreign powers to prevent corruption and influence on the government.
Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers behind the suit, told The Times that the Constitution’s framers “understood that one way a republic could fail is if foreign powers could corrupt our elected leaders.”
Sources of potential corruption and influence include loans to Trump businesses from foreign government controlled banks, leases at his properties by foreign governments, and patronage at his hotels and golf courses.
The federal suit, which does not seek a monetary award, asks the court to ban the president from accepting those kinds of payments, the newspaper said.
Eric Trump, the president’s son who serves as an executive vice president of the family’s businesses, told The Times that Trump’s enterprises have gone beyond what the law requires to prevent constitutional violations.
He dismissed the lawsuit as “purely harassment for political gain.”
The group filing the lawsuit, which also seeks to obtain a copy of Trump’s federal tax returns, faces the legal challenge of showing that it has standing to sue—a requirement to demonstrate that Trump’s business activities cause the plaintiff direct harm.
According to The Times, this is just one of many legal actions planned by “major liberal advocacy organizations” against Trump.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, is behind this lawsuit. Its legal team includes Harvard University constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe, Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine’ law school dean, and Richard W. Painter, an ethics counsel in the George W. Bush administration.
SOURCE: New York Times