By Miriam Raftery
March 28, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – The attorneys generals of Maryland and Washington D.C. have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, alleging that he is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution. The emoluments clause prohibits federal official from becoming personally enriched by accepting gifts, titles or emoluments from any “King, Prince or foreign state.
According to Cornell Law Institute, the Constitutional provision is meant to prevent corruption or external influence by foreign states. In addition, The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966 further lists several elected positions in its definition of "employees" who may not accept any gift of more than minimal value without Congressional approval. That list includes the President, Vice President, and members of Congress as well as their spouses and dependents.
The President has been served with a summons in the case, The Hill reports.
The lawsuit is filed against Trump in his "official capacity and in his individual capacity," according to the Washington, D.C., radio station. The TV station WAMU reports that the move to name Trump as a personal defendant in the suit follows the suggestion of the federal judge in the case.
The suit contends that some foreign groups are choosing to stay at Trump’s hotels to curry favor with the president, harming rival businesses.
An earlier suit alleging that Trump violated the emoluments clause, filed by a watchdog organization, was dismissed because a federal judge found that the plaintiffs lacked standing. This suit could potentially fare better, if the plaintiffs can show they were harmed by actions that violate the emoluments clause.