Ethics Group Sues President Trump for Receiving Illegal Payments

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits Trump from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress.

By Rakesh Raman

A team of ethics lawyers filed a complaint today against U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing him of accepting illegal payments for his businesses from foreign governments.

The legal team officially filed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) v. Donald J. Trump to stop the President from violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments.

The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits Trump from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress.

The CREW is represented in the case by a team of top constitutional scholars, ethics experts and litigators who have combined to argue 45 cases before the Supreme Court.

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The lawyers on the case include CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents, Constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, and Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC.

The lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York states that Trump is “submerged in conflicts of interest” because of ties with countries such as China, India, and potentially Russia.

The case seeks to stop Trump from accepting any improper payments under the emoluments clause of the Constitution. The CREW stated in its complaint that Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides as follows:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

“It is already clear that nothing short of judicial force will end Trump’s flagrant disregard of the core barrier the Constitution’s Framers erected against presidential decisions driven by personal greed or by loyalty purchased from the President by the patronage of foreign powers,” said Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School.

Moreover, Eisen stated that “President Trump is the first president in decades not to release his tax returns. Seventy five percent of Americans want to see the President’s tax returns and so do we. We will seek those in discovery in this case in order to establish the details of the emoluments clause violations here.”

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Despite repeated demands from Democrats as well as Republicans, Trump has refused to release his tax returns. Many believe that Trump’s tax returns can reveal about his shady business deals with Russia and other entities in different parts of the world.

As he has been offering lame excuses about the delay in releasing returns, it is largely believed that he wants to hide something that can put his presidency in jeopardy.

Although Trump claims that he runs profitable businesses, independent reports suggest that his businesses are under heavy debt.

According to a new report mentioned by The Independent, Trump’s companies are under a debt of nearly $1.8 billion to more than 150 institutions – raising questions about potential conflicts of interests. That’s why Trump is reluctant to reveal his tax information.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. It claims that it is fighting the influence of money on the U.S. political system.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a government award-winning journalist and runs free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.

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Rakesh Raman