Two US attorneys general to sue over foreign payments to Trump hotels

June 12 (Reuters) - The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia plan to file a lawsuit on Monday alleging that foreign payments to President Donald Trump's businesses violate the U.S. constitution, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Trump already faces a similar lawsuit that was brought in January by plaintiffs including a ethics non-profit group.

However, the case from two Democratic attorneys general could stand a better chance in court as the first government action over allegations that Trump, a Republican, violated the constitution's so-called emoluments clause.

Democrat AGs have taken a lead role in litigating against Trump's policies, successfully blocking executive orders restricting travel from some Muslim-majority countries. They are also resisting efforts to roll back environmental regulations and insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

See more on Trump buildings:

7 PHOTOS
Trump buildings around the world
See Gallery
Trump buildings around the world
A view of the Trump Tower in Baku. On Monday, May 22, 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - MARCH 11: Trump International Hotel and Tower is shown after members of Plumbers Local 130 U.A. poured environmentally safe orange powder along the Chicago River turning it green for St. Patrick's Day in Chicago, Illinois on March 11, 2017. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
View of the Trump International Hotel And Tower from below in New York City on Feb 28th 2017.
Trump International Hotel & Tower stands in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver is the first new hotel to bear the name of U.S. President Donald Trump since he took office. Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 21: A view of the Trump SoHo hotel condominium building, February 21, 2017 in New York City. The development of Trump SoHo, completed in 2010, was constructed in partnership with the Bayrock Group, headed by former Soviet official Tevfik Arif. Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman, also worked for Bayrock Group during the development of Trump SoHo. Despite repeated claims that he is not involved in any business deals with Russia, President Trump's ties to the country continue to be scrutinized. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 21: A view of the Trump SoHo hotel condominium building at dusk, February 21, 2017 in New York City. The development of Trump SoHo, completed in 2010, was constructed in partnership with the Bayrock Group, headed by former Soviet official Tevfik Arif. Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman, also worked for Bayrock Group during the development of Trump SoHo. Despite repeated claims that he is not involved in any business deals with Russia, President Trump's ties to the country continue to be scrutinized. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

A spokesman for Maryland's attorney general declined to comment on the latest emoluments case. DC attorney general Karl Racine and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice could not immediately be reached.

In the case filed in January in Manhattan federal court, an ethics non-profit, restaurant group and hotel events booker allege Trump violates the Constitution's "emoluments" clause, which bars him from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval, by maintaining ownership over his business empire despite ceding day-to-day control to his sons.

The Justice Department on Friday argued that those plaintiffs lack the legal standing to sue because they cannot allege enough specific harm caused by Trump's businesses. The government also said Trump hotel revenue does not fit the definition of an improper payment under the constitution.

AG Racine told Reuters in a March interview that the District of Columbia has suffered particular harm because it subsidized the construction of hotels that are now impacted by foreign payments to Trump properties.

That puts the district in a "unique position" to file legal claims over the emoluments clause, Racine said.

The Washington Post earlier reported the AG lawsuit. (Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Michael Perry)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.