Only a few days after it was reported that the attorneys general of D.C. and Maryland were preparing to sue Trump, almost 200 congressional Democrats have filed a suit of their own. The nature of the suits are nearly identical, and they both revolve around Trump’s perceived violation of the Constitution: specifically, the “emoluments clause.”
This suit—believed to involve more members of Congress than any other lawsuit against a sitting president, ever—asserts that Trump has illegally profited from his business by collecting payments from foreign diplomats staying in his hotels, as well as by getting trademark approvals from foreign governments for his company.
What’s unique about this case is that the plaintiffs argue that they’ve been personally hindered by these dealings. Their complaint, which you can read in full here, states:
The founders ensured that federal officeholders would not decide for themselves whether particular emoluments were likely to compromise their own independence or lead them to put personal interest over national interest. An officeholder, in short, should not be the sole judge of his own integrity.
And this is actually the third such lawsuit against Trump. After congressmen and the attorneys general, there is also an ongoing suit involving private individuals who compete with Trump’s businesses. They believe that by keeping a hand in his business, Trump has given his companies an unethical advantage.
All three of these suits are intended to stack together, so the Justice Department will be forced to hear at least one of these cases. The idea is to push the lawsuits to a “fact-finding stage” so that Trump’s dealings can be made more public. According to the suit:
The truth is we have no clue about the president’s investors. How much is Russian money? What we are seeking first and foremost is disclosure. We cannot consent to what we don’t know.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Justice Department will allow any of these suits to actually go through. It’s unfortunate that the congressional suit is so heavily partisan—there isn’t a single Republican in the 196-person group—but hopefully we can get some real answers on Trump’s business dealings. At the very least, maybe this will force the president to actually separate from his businesses once and for all.
Of course, don’t let this distract you from the Republican’s new health care bill.