Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Lawsuit: Trump business ties violate Constitution

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP) To fight what it called a "grave threat" to the country, a watchdog group yesterday filed a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his business to accept payments from foreign governments.

The lawsuit claims that Trump is violating a clause in the Constitution that prohibits him from receiving money from diplomats for stays at his hotels or foreign governments for leases of office space in his buildings. The language in the clause is disputed by legal experts, and some think the suit will fail, but it signalled the start of a legal assault by Trump critics on what they see as unprecedented conflicts between his business and the presidency.

Trump called the lawsuit "without merit, totally without merit" after he signed some of his first executive orders yesterday in the Oval Office.

The liberal-funded watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York.

The group is being represented by two former White House chief ethics lawyers: Norman Eisen, who advised Barack Obama, and Richard Painter, who worked under George W. Bush. The two have expressed frustration that Trump has refused to take their recommendation and divest from his business, and feel they had no choice but to take legal action.