Plans to sue President Trump over allegedly taking foreign government payments

"We're concerned that foreign governments are coming to the Trump businesses with a single objective of currying special favor from the president of the United States so that their interest can get a higher priority than the interest of the American people", District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

The attorneys general for Maryland and Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump, alleging that he violated the Constitution's anti-corruption clauses by accepting payments from foreign governments since taking office.

- Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) June 12, 2017The congresswoman's call comes on the same day the Maryland and Washington, D.C., attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking Trump's financial information and alleging the president violated the clauses by maintaining a financial stake in the D.C. hotel.

What do you think of the attorney generals' lawsuit?

Constitutional scholars debate whether or not the Emoluments Clause applies to the president, or to businesses owned by him.

The lawsuit claims Trump's continued ownership of his business empire violates the emoluments clause, which has been little tested in court.

"What DOJ wrote in a pleading in federal court is it is entirely permissible for the president of the United States to receive all the money in the world from foreign countries to his businesses, notwithstanding that he has not formally divested himself from those businesses", Racine said.

Maryland and the District of Columbia argue that they should be shielded from "undue pressure to provide emoluments to the president", and that other states can "curry favor from the president by providing emoluments that other states lack".

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit says despite billionaire Trump having placed his extensive business holdings in a trust after he was elected president, he still owns the properties and is well-aware of the money they are earning him.

Racine and Frosh on Monday said they had legal standing to pursue the case on behalf of the residents they represent and do not have to demonstrate that Maryland or Washington businesses suffered any specific financial harm from Trump's actions. Trump's lawyers will likely move to dismiss the case, he said.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said the case is about Trump's failure to separate his personal interests from his presidential duties.

The lawsuit was filed today in Maryland federal court, The New York Times said.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Lindsey Jancek told The New York Times on Monday that the suit is not only "absurd" but also is indicative of "the kind of partisan grandstanding voters across the country have come to despise". Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington against Trump. Our role as an independent, fact-based news organization has never been clearer.

While a number of legal challenges have been filed accusing Trump of corruption, the latest suit is the first brought by government entities.

The Justice Department also said the group had defined emoluments too broadly, and that the concept applies only to payments given to the president in his official capacity.

According to Racine, the lawsuit shows that state attorney generals can also serve as a check on executive power.

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