Dem calls for House inquiry into foreign payments to Trump hotel

The Maryland and D.C. attorneys general are seeking an order in U.S. District Court in Maryland preventing Trump from continuing to receive government payments beyond his salary.

The prosecutors General of the US state of Maryland and the district of Columbia intend on Monday to file a lawsuit against President Donald trump, accusing him of violating anti-corruption laws.

Frosh said in a statement on Monday that Trump's "wide-ranging business entanglements violate the Constitution's Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses". The General Services Administration, the federal agency that oversees the three-year-old lease of the old Post Office building turned Trump hotel, has found that the Trump Organization is in "full compliance" with the lease. Trump was supposed to shift business assets into his sons' trust to eliminate the prospects of his son having conflicts of interests.

The attorneys general said that the President violated the Constitution by failing to sever ties to his business empire and accepting foreign payments while in office.

In March, DC attorney general Karl Racine told Reuters that the District had suffered because it had subsidized the construction of Trump-owned hotels that are now impacted by foreign payments and commerce. It alleges Trump is violating the Constitution by taking payments from foreign governments while president.

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 suit alleges that President Trump is flagrantly violating the Constitution". Specifically, they accuse Trump of improperly accepting payments from foreign governments through his business interests, arguing that this is a violation of the Constitution's once-obscure emoluments clause.

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The Justice Department on Friday argued that those plaintiffs lack the legal standing to sue because they can not allege enough specific harm caused by Trump's businesses. Trump's lawyers will likely move to dismiss the case, he said.

"It's not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations behind this", Spicer said Monday.

The lawsuit, first reported by The Washington Post, comes months after state lawmakers in Annapolis gave Frosh broad authority to bypass the governor and sue the federal government on a range of issues.

"It's unprecedented that the American people must question day after day whether decisions are made and actions are taken to benefit the United States or to benefit Donald Trump", Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said Monday.

Mr Frosh said Mr Trump regularly welcomed foreign diplomats to his hotel and appeared frequently at Trump establishments, "using his role as president to raise their public profile".

A spokeswoman for the Republican Party described the lawsuit as "absurd", and said it represented "the kind of partisan grandstanding voters across the country have come to despise". "Instead, it would have been thought of as a value-for-value exchange; not a gift, not a title, and not an emolument", said Sheri Dillon, an attorney for Trump. Still, Democratic attorneys general have led the charge in challenging the president in court.

"If the Justice Department is right, the emoluments clause has no meaning whatsoever", Frosh said. Foreign and US government entities rent space in Trump-owned buildings.

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