Ethics Lawyers Sue Trump
They are suing over 'unconstitutional' foreign payments
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 1:18 AM CST
Updated Jan 23, 2017 3:44 PM CST
Donald Trump speaks as he arrives at his revamped Trump Turnberry golf course in Turnberry Scotland last June.   (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP, File)
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(Newser) – An ethics watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against President Trump on his first full weekday in office, the AP reports. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal advocacy group that includes constitutional scholars and former White House ethics lawyers, says Trump is in violation of the constitution's Emoluments Clause, which bans accepting compensation from foreign governments, reports Reuters. "President Trump has made his slogan 'America First,'" CREW director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. "So you would think he would want to strictly follow the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, since it was written to ensure our government officials are thinking of Americans first, and not foreign governments."

The group says that since Trump has refused to divest from his businesses, he will be accepting payment from foreign governments when they do things like book rooms at his hotels—and when he negotiates trade deals with countries like China, "the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman." Trump's lawyers argue that the clause was never meant to apply to things like standard hotel bills. Eric Trump says the Trump Organization has already taken steps to address this, including pledging to donate hotel profits from foreign government guests to the Treasury. "This is purely harassment for political gain, and, frankly, I find it very, very sad," he tells the New York Times. President Trump called the lawsuit "without merit, totally without merit" after he signed some of his first executive actions Monday in the Oval Office.

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