Trump Rejects New Lawsuit Over Foreign Payments To His Firms
Jan 24, 2017 08:05 AM EST
President Donald Trump dismissed the allegations by prominent constitutional and ethics lawyers that he is violating the U.S. Constitution by letting his hotels and other business firms accept foreign payments. Trump rejects new lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics Washington (CREW), a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. On Monday, the president told reporters that the accusations were without merit.
According to CREW, Trump has close ties with countries such as China, India, and Russia. Therefore, foreign payments to his firms made through his dealings with the said countries and payments for things such as hotel rooms and office leases posed conflict of interest for the president. The lawsuit seeks to stop him from accepting any improper payments citing a constitutional provision, known as the emoluments clause, as reason thereof. Trump rejects new lawsuit saying that although he retains ownership of his global business firms while on active duty as president, the day-to-day control and operations are handed to his oldest sons.
CREW said in its complaint that they are doubtful as private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders. Moreover, there is no way of knowing that when the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with other countries, he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman. Sheri Dillon, a Trump adviser and partner at the law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, claimed that the emoluments clause only applies to gifts rather than foreign payments to his firms and things such as hotel bills, thus the reason Trump rejects new lawsuit. Further, the profits generated from Trump's hotels from foreign governments would be donated to the U.S. Treasury.
This is simply not enough as CREW said that the president's refusal to transfer ownership or set up a blind trust will be a violation of the emoluments clause. Trump rejects new lawsuit saying that he was doing more than he needed to do and noted that an ethics law that applies to most executive branch officials exempt the president. Meanwhile, CREW showed it has legal standing and that they have been "significantly injured" by having to divert resources to the lawsuit and field hundreds of media questions. Although the claim is reasonable, a professor of law noted that U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams may not decide to get involve and he will either find the lack of legal standing or that the issue is a political question.