The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia plan to sue President Trump over foreign payments.
A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court says Trump is violating the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments without the consent of Congress.
The suit cites the president’s luxury hotel in Washington, which has been at the center of concerns about conflicts of interest, and his worldwide network of hotels, golf courses and other commercial properties.
Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine told reporters that foreign governments are already spending money at Trump properties to curry favor with Trump. He said Saudi Arabia alone has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We are a nation of laws, and no one, including the president of the United States, is above the law,” Racine said. “What are we to do, sit back and let the president police himself?”
Maryland and the district also argue that they themselves are being harmed economically — because their businesses have to compete with Trump’s, and because their governments face pressure to provide Trump with permits and tax breaks.
“The president is bound by oath to ‘faithfully execute’ his office and ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the lawsuit says, and the president must “disentangle his private finances” from domestic or foreign powers to honor that oath.
“Never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription,” it says.