Lawyers to sue Trump over payments from foreign gov’ts

Group argues leases, room bookings violate US Constitution

TRD New York /
Jan.January 23, 2017 10:31 AM

From left: Trump Tower, Donald Trump and Trump International Hotel (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr and Trump Hotels)

A group of constitutional and ethics lawyers are planning to sue Donald Trump, arguing that payments his businesses receive from entities tied to foreign governments violates the United States Constitution.

“The framers of the Constitution were students of history,” one of the lawyers, Deepak Gupta, said. “And they understood that one way a republic could fail is if foreign powers could corrupt our elected leaders.”

The constitution’s Emoluments Clause bars U.S. presidents from receiving money from foreign governments. The lawyers argue that this means Trump businesses should not be allowed to get bank loans, hotel room charges or office rent payments from any entity with ties to a foreign government. This could apply to the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and the Abu Dhabi tourism office, which have signed leases at Trump-owned buildings.

The group, which includes Laurence Tribe, Zephyr Teachout, Norman Eisen, Erwin Chemerinsky and Richard Painter, seeks a court order barring Trump from receiving payments from foreign governments.

Trump’s attorneys counter that the Emoluments Clause only bars payments that go beyond fair market value. “This is purely harassment for political gain, and, frankly, I find it very, very sad,” Trump’s son Eric TRData LogoTINY, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, told the New York Times.

He argued that the Trump Organization had gone to great lengths to avoid legal issues, agreeing to donate any profits at Trump-owned hotels that come from foreign government officials to the U.S. Treasury.

It is unclear whether the suit has a real shot at succeeding, but one of the plaintiffs told the Times that one of the suit’s goals is to get a hand on Trump’s tax returns.

The suit is the first of what observers expect to be an onslaught of actions by liberal groups targeting Trump’s vast web of conflicts of interest.  [NYT]Konrad Putzier

Related Articles

Make Greenland Great Again? Trump wants to buy Arctic territory

Make Greenland Great Again? Trump wants to buy Arctic territory

Hamptons’ priciest summer rental to host MAGA extravaganza next month

Hamptons’ priciest summer rental to host MAGA extravaganza next month

Donald Trump with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Rep. Ron Kind and Sen. Cory Booker (Credit: Getty Images, iStock)

Trump’s Opportunity Zone program is under investigation

Mayor Bill de Blasio, 40 Wall Street, and President Donald Trump (Credit: Getty Images, 40 Wall St. via the Trump Organization)

Trump Org blasts mayor for criminal referral of tax findings

Donald Trump and the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. (Credit: Getty Images)

Deadline is set for bids on Trump’s DC hotel

Rudin Management Company's Bill Rudin, Blackstone's Jonathan Gray and Mike Bloomberg (Credit: Getty Images)

Bloomberg pitches real estate execs at NYC campaign HQ

Clockwise from left: 1290 Sixth Avenue, 40 Wall Street, President Donald Trump, Trump National Doral in Miami and Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC (Credit: Getty Images, Vornado, Wikipedia)

Trump Org’s office holdings help offset hotel losses: analysis

Paul Manafort and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (Credit: Getty Images)

Judge tosses mortgage-fraud case against Manafort