CREW sues to stop Trump from receiving payments from foreign governments

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a federal lawsuit to stop President Donald Trump from violating the Constitution by receiving payments from foreign governments.

The lawsuit was being filed on Jan. 23 in the Southern District of New York.

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

“We did not want to get to this point. It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office,” CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder said. “He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action.”

CREW said Trump is getting cash and favors from foreign governments, through guests and events at his hotels, leases in his buildings, and valuable real estate deals abroad.

Trump, who won the Electoral College vote and was sworn into office on Jan. 20, does business with China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries. CREW said in a news release that “when Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman.”

“President Trump has made his slogan ‘America First,’” said Bookbinder. “So you would think he would want to strictly follow the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, since it was written to ensure our government officials are thinking of Americans first, and not foreign governments.”

CREW is represented in the case by 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.