Prepare to hear a lot about something called the "emoluments clause." It's the linchpin of a lawsuit being filed Monday against President Trump by two Democratic attorneys general, reports Reuters. AGs Brian Frosh of Maryland and Karl Racine of Washington, DC, say Trump is violating the Constitution by retaining ownership of his business empire. The document's emoluments clause forbids presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments without the consent of Congress, and the lawsuit says Trump is doing exactly that by reaping profits from his global empire even while doing government business with other nations. A watchdog group filed a similar lawsuit in January, but this is the first from government entities, reports the Washington Post. If the case is allowed to proceed, the attorneys general will demand that Trump's tax returns be made public.
That, in turn, could result in Trump's attorneys having to defend in court the decision to keep them private, notes the Post. “Fundamental to a President’s fidelity to [faithfully execute his oath of office] is the Constitution’s demand that the President ... disentangle his private finances from those of domestic and foreign powers," says the lawsuit. "Never before has a President acted with such disregard for this constitutional prescription.” On Friday, Justice Department lawyers sought to have the watchdog group's lawsuit tossed, arguing that those bringing it had suffered no injury and thus had no standing to sue, reports the AP. But the new suit by the attorneys general hits that point, saying that venues such as the taxpayer-owned DC convention center are losing business as foreign visitors seeking to curry favor with the president opt for Trump-owned entities instead.