A watchdog group, (CREW) Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington , has filed a federal lawsuit in New York under U.S. Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause; a clause intended to protect against influence by barring presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments without permission from Congress.
CREW has argued its case before Judge George Daniels. Attorneys for the Justice Department have asked the judge to dismiss the case, however, CREW’s legal team have argued that Trump himself put this previously obscure Constitutional provision in play by refusing to follow precedent and sell his business holdings before the inauguration, or by placing all assets in a blind trust. Instead, he placed his assets into a trust which was supposed to have been handled by his sons and one of his lawyers. It was promised that he handed over the Trump Organization Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.
In April, we learned that the illusion of this president having removed his hands from the Trump Organization’s proverbial cookie jar is far more dubious than it initially appeared; the language of the trust document had secretly been changed to reflect that the president can basically do whatever he wants with his assets. Per ProPublica’s report: “The previously unreported changes to a trust document, stipulates that it “shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request” or whenever his son and longtime attorney “deem appropriate.” That can include everything from profits to the underlying assets, such as the businesses themselves.”
Trump can withdraw cash payments from his businesses any time he chooses. CREW takes issue with the fact that Trump himself and other government leaders frequent his hotels, clubs and restaurants — presumably for profit to Trump Organization. As such, Trump is in breach of the Emoluments Clause. Additionally, this raises concern that international officials will visit his properties in order curry favor with Trump, which could potentially influence policy… in addition to lining the president’s own pockets.
A CREW press release reads, in part, “When the courts opened at 9 am this morning, a legal dream team officially filed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Donald J. Trump to stop the President from violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments.”