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State AG explains Trump lawsuit

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County,Prince George's County,Anne Arundel County
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Annapolis, MD- Earlier this month, TheBayNet.com spoke exclusively with Governor Larry Hogan [R] about the lawsuit filed against the Trump Administration by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine.

The attorneys general claim President Trump is violating both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. The lawsuit was filed in federal district court on Monday, June 12. Frosh claims President Trump is more focused on benefiting his businesses rather than benefiting the country.

TheBayNet.com reached out to the attorney general’s office for further comment on the pending lawsuit.

Attorney General Frosh alleges President Trump’s wide-ranging business entanglements violate the Constitution’s Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. “Elected leaders must serve the people, and not their personal financial interests. That is the indispensable foundation of a democracy. We cannot treat a president’s ongoing violations of the Constitution and disregard for the rights of the American people as the new and acceptable status quo. The president, above all other elected officials, must have on the interests of Americans at the heart of every decision.”

The lawsuit claims foreign dignitaries who spend money at Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC violate the Emoluments Clauses. This includes a recent payment of $270,000 to the Trump International Hotel from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—a country lobbying against a U.S. terrorism law.

TheBayNet.com asked the attorney general why he believes that payment falls under the Emoluments Clauses. “President Trump’s continued ownership interest in a global business empire, which renders him deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors, violates the Constitution, calling into question the rule of law and the integrity of our political system.” The attorney general also noted President Trump continues to seek valuable trademarks from foreign countries for his business ventures. It’s also noted foreign and U.S. government entities rent space in Trump-owned buildings.

The lawsuit states, “Whatever the sincerity of the persons involved, foreign or domestic officials are put in the position of considering whether offering benefits to businesses associated with the President is important to maintain goodwill.”

When asked if attorneys general from other states expressed interest in joining the lawsuit, Attorney General Frosh’s office told TheBayNet.com, “There has been interest.”

Questions are being raised about who is footing the bill for this lawsuit. For the first time since 1864, the Maryland Attorney General did not need approval from the governor or the general assembly to file this lawsuit. The attorney general was granted the authority from the general assembly this past legislative session. Frosh’s office told TheBayNet.com, “The money being spent is the normal work of the attorney general’s office and is being operated within a budge appropriated by the general assembly and Governor Hogan.”

When TheBayNet.com spoke to Hogan about the pending lawsuit, he had yet to read over and review the suit and allegations. He did say, “It seems like a lot of politics but I don’t know all of the details about it, you should ask the attorney general what his motivation is.”

According to the complaint filed by the attorneys general, “Uncertainty about whether the President is acting in the best interests of the American people, or rather for his own ends of personal enrichment, inflicts lasting harm on our democracy. The Framers of the Constitution foresaw that possibility, and acted to prevent that harm.”

In January, then President-Elect Trump said he would hand over his businesses to his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and to Alan Weisselberg, a Trump business executive. The plan was to distance himself from potential conflicts of interests. Frosh and Racine said the President failed to keep that promise. “Never in the history of this country have we ever had a President with these types of extensive business entanglements or a President who refused to adequately distance themselves from their holdings,” Racine said.

After the lawsuit was filed, Trump organization officials said they would donate any profits from foreign transactions at the end of the year. Prior to his inauguration, Trump’s legal team commented that paying for a hotel room is not a “gift or a present” and it is not an Emoluments Clause violation.

You can read the entire lawsuit and complaint here.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

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