WASHINGTON— Attorneys representing more than 200 Democratic members of Congress served subpoenas to President Trump’s businesses in a lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
The Department of Justice Monday asked a federal appeals court to dismiss the lawsuit, which seeks information on Trump’s financial exchanges with foreign governments, from advancing. Government lawyers contend lawmakers don’t have the authority to sue the president.
The DOJ filing argues that the Democrat lawsuit “rests on a host of novel and flawed constitutional premises” and would “entail intrusive discovery into the President’s personal financial affairs on account of his federal office.”
But a District Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Clinton appointee, allowed the proceedings to move forward.
Democrats then immediately issued a press release announcing they have issued 37 judicial subpoenas to Trump’s private businesses, including the Trump Organization.
The Emoluments Clause prohibits federal officials from receiving benefits from foreign governments while they’re in office. Congress must vote on any gifts a president receives from foreign officials, the Constitution states.
Democrats are “seeking a targeted set of documents to obtain the information that we need to ensure that the President that can no longer shirk his constitutional responsibility,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
“Thanks to the good work of the press, we already know of foreign emoluments that President Trump has and is receiving – we simply don’t yet know the full scope of his lawbreaking,” Blumenthal continued. “Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration is still seeking to delay, delay, delay, but we are confident that the D.C. Circuit will recognize the well-reasoned logic of the district court, and allow discovery to proceed.”
The media has run unsubstantiated news stories accusing Trump was of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause and enriching himself. Yet, Washington Post and left-leaning outlets have run stories cheering that Trump’s businesses are faltering, indicating that the president who has never taken a presidential paycheck, isn’t using the presidency to enrich himself.
House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., warns Trump “has flagrantly ignored the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, but we do not yet know the extent of his violations.”
“We are taking an important step towards obtaining key documents to understand the full scope of Trump’s foreign business dealings,” Nadler said in a statement.
Trump has repeatedly accused Democrats of “presidential harassment” in their efforts to obtain his financial records and has sued House Democrats twice, in his personal capacity, to block congressional subpoenas for his records from private financial institutions.
Prior to taking office, Trump divested himself of his vast business operations, handing them over to his family. The Trump Organization designed a process to identify any profits from foreign sources and donate that income to the U.S. Treasury. Therefore, the issue of Trump “profiting” from foreign governments should be moot.
The 200 Democrats who are subpoenaing Trump for allegedly violating the Emolument Clause were indifferent when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her family enriched themselves while she was in office, selling access to foreign countries.
Meanwhile, the battle waged by Democrats over the president’s federal taxes also intensified Monday. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Monday to allow congressional committees to access Trump’s tax state returns.
The bill mandates state tax officials to disclose the president’s returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” on request of the chair of one of the three congressional committees: the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
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