US capital city Washington D.C. and nearby state Maryland on Monday filed a lawsuit against US President Donald Trump, alleging he violated clauses in the Constitution by accepting payments and benefits from foreign governments since his inauguration. The lawsuit, the first of its kind brought by government entities, was launched by Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and his Maryland counterpart Brian Frosh, Xinhua news agency reported. It claimed that Trump violated two anti-corruption rules in the Constitution that prohibit the president from pulling in profits from businesses he owns, controls or prospers from. “An emoluments lawsuit against Trump has been filed by D.C. and Maryland. It is time to open a House Judiciary Committee inquiry,” Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic member of the committee, tweeted.
In response, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attacked the lawsuit as motivated by “partisan politics” during his daily press briefing. “This lawsuit is just another iteration of the case filed by that group CREW, filed by the same lawyers,” Spicer said, referring to a government watchdog group that first sued Trump over the issue in January. “It’s not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be more the motivations behind the scenes,” he added.
Ahead of the Monday lawsuit, the US Department of Justice filed a 70-page legal brief on Friday arguing that Trump’s businesses are legally permitted to accept market-rate payments from foreign governments while he is in office. However, the two attorney generals argue there are “unprecedented constitutional violations” by Trump and that both Washington D.C. and Maryland are being adversely affected by the Trump International Hotel near the White House.