Brooklyn Boro

Marching women might be less problem for Trump than revenue from abroad

January 24, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
President Donald Trump hosts a reception for House and Senate leaders in the the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday. AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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Just two days after the national Women’s March on Washington, President Donald Trump is in a bit of trouble and it has nothing to do with women’s rights.

Trump’s potential conflicts of interest has been talked about for months already, but on Monday those problems came to a head when a lawsuit was filed against Trump in the New York’s Southern District by a liberal watchdog group that accuse him of violating the constitution.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal-funded watchdog group, was responsible for filing the suit. The lawsuit claims that Trump is in violation of the emoluments clause in the Constitution that prohibits him from receiving money from diplomats that stay in his hotels and from foreign governments who lease office space in his buildings.

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“These violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause pose a grave threat to the United States and its citizens,” the lawsuit stated. “As the Framers were aware, private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders, and entanglements between American officials and foreign powers could pose a creeping, insidious threat to the Republic.”

Trump denied the lawsuit as, “totally without merit,” on Monday. His attorney, Sheri Dillon, a partner at Morgan Lewis, was quoted by the Associated Press and said that as long as Trump gets fair market value in his business transactions with foreign officials that it isn’t a violation of the emoluments clause.

“No one would have thought the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument,” Dillon said.

CREW is being represented by two lawyers in the lawsuit — former White House ethics lawyers Norman Eisen, who worked for Barack Obama, and Richard Painter, who worked for George W. Bush. They said that they are not looking for monetary damages, they just want Trump to divest from his businesses to avoid, what they call, unprecedented conflicts.

“We have never had a president who has in a significant way accepted foreign payments.” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “There are a lot of issues that have to be litigated for the first time.”

In order to have standing to bring this case, CREW has to show that it was hurt in someway by Trump’s actions. CREW is claiming that violations have forced it to divert resources to this fight and is being harmed as a result, but MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent Ari Melber said that there is precedent to their argument in some civil rights cases, but added that nobody knows how the U.S. Supreme Court would ultimately rule on the potential violations of the emoluments clause.

“We have no idea and anyone who claims to know the answer…doesn’t have the goods,” Melber said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Monday morning. “The Emoluments Clause has never ever been clearly defined by the supreme court. We’ve never had a president with these types of business holdings.”

Trump has denied that rules on conflicts don’t apply to the president and announced earlier this month that his two sons will take over his company as a way to silence critics. He also claimed that his companies would do no more business deals abroad and that he would donate any profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury. Government ethics lawyers have called this insufficient.

In addition to this lawsuit, the New York Times has reported that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act request last week that asked the Justice Department, the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Government Ethics for all legal opinions and memos they have on addressing conflicts that Trump could face.

CREW has also filed a separate complaint with GSA on Friday regarding the Old Post Office building in Washington D.C. that is the shite of a Trump hotel.

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