DC and Maryland Sue Trump for Corruption

Read the full lawsuit here.

Protesters at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DCAlex Edelman/ZUMA

The Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia on Monday launched the latest salvo in the legal battle against President Donald Trump, filing a federal suit alleging “unprecedented constitutional violations” as a result of Trump’s continued ownership of his hotels and restaurants. The attorneys general say Trump has violated the domestic and foreign emolument clauses of the US Constitution, which bar elected officials from accepting payments and other gifts from outside entities.

At a press conference, Karl Racine, DC’s attorney general, said the two offices felt compelled to file a lawsuit because Congress hasn’t taken any steps to police the president’s many conflicts of interests, while Trump has not adhered to any of his promises to avoid business entanglements.

“Traditional checks and balances are failing us,” Racine said. “By not divesting from his businesses, the president has chosen to put himself and our country in the position we are in today. Every time the president has spoken about drawing a line, he has walked his promises back.”

At a January press conference, Trump said he would step back from daily operations of his businesses but would not be divesting. Since then, his son, Eric Trump, has said there will be regular meetings with President Trump to update him on how the businesses are doing. 

The suit is the first to be filed by a governmental entity, but it is the third such suit targeting Trump for refusing to divest from his private business and allegedly benefiting from foreign agents and other guests with business before the federal government who patronize Trump’s properties. The first suit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in January, the second by a Washington, DC, restaurant that argues Trump’s ongoing ownership of his hotel constitutes unfair competition.

The new suit argues that compliance with the emoluments clause is critical to guaranteeing that “Americans do not have to guess whether a President who orders their sons and daughters to die in foreign lands acts out of concern for his private business interests; they do not have to wonder if they lost their job due to trade negotiations in which the President has a personal stake; and they never have to question whether the President can sit across the bargaining table from foreign leaders and faithfully represent the world’s most powerful democracy, unencumbered by fear of harming his own companies.”

Read the suit:

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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