Trump Summoned for AG Lawsuit Alleging Constitutional Violation

CREW filed an almost identical earlier lawsuit that was thrown out after a judge said it did not have standing

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March 23, 2018

President Donald Trump received a summons for a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland alleging he has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which bars foreign governments from paying U.S. officials, according to reports.

The suit is being aided by the executive director of a liberal watchdog group that filed an almost identical earlier lawsuit before being thrown out last year after a judge said it did not have standing.

The AG's original complaint alleging the violation of the Emoluments Clause was filed last June by Democratic attorneys generals Brian Frosh, the AG of Maryland, and Karl Racine, the AG of the District of Columbia, along with individuals in their offices. The lawsuit has since expanded to include Trump in his personal capacity, WAMU reports.

"The lawsuit alleges violations by the President of two distinct yet related provisions of the U.S. Constitution that seek to make certain that he faithfully serves the American people, free from compromising financial entanglements with foreign and domestic governments and officials," the complaint reads.

Racine said last year that Trump is "flagrantly violating the Constitution" and that "never in the history of this country have we had a president with these kinds of extensive business entanglements."

"We know foreign governments are spending [at the Trump International Hotel] to curry favor with the President of the United States," Racine said. "The Saudis are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Trump hotel."

Noah Bookbinder—the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog group that was previously led by David Brock—is also listed on the lawsuit.

Bookbinder became the executive director of CREW in 2015 and previously advised Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) as Chief Counsel for Criminal Justice for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.

Stuart McPhail, CREW's litigation counsel, is also listed on the complaint under Bookbinder.

CREW filed a separate and almost identical lawsuit claiming Trump violated the Constitution that was ultimately dismissed by a judge last December. Bookbinder did not return a request for comment on his and McPhail's involvement with the AG's lawsuit by press time.

The liberal watchdog group, which is often referred to as "nonpartisan" by media outlets, claims "Trump will be afflicted by a steady flow of damaging, new revelations, and an inability to avoid conflicts issues," in confidential documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon at a David Brock donor retreat in January of last year.

"CREW will be the leading nonpartisan ethics watchdog group in a period of crisis with a President and administration that present possible conflicts of interest and ethical problems on an unprecedented scale," the memo states.

The memo, which Brock handed to donors after he stepped down as the chair of CREW, also boasts of the group "partnering with top reporters to move major stories forward" and said its communications team would triple to "spread the word" about Trump's "unprecedented ethics crisis further and wider." It additionally promised that the Trump administration would be forced to defend itself in court, among other initiatives.

Trump's attorneys have three weeks to respond to the summons.