US lawmakers sue Donald Trump over foreign ′conflict of interest′ payments | News | DW | 14.06.2017
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United States

US lawmakers sue Donald Trump over foreign 'conflict of interest' payments

Democratic lawmakers have accused the president of "conflicts of interests in at least 25 countries," saying he is in violation of the constitution. The White House has slammed similar lawsuits as "partisan politics."

Nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday sued US President Donald Trump in federal court for accepting funds from foreign governments through his businesses without receiving congressional approval.

The 196 lawmakers accused Trump of effectively violating the US Constitution, which stipulates that public officeholders may not receive gifts or emoluments from foreign states without consent from Congress.

The plaintiffs said that Trump benefits directly from payments submitted to the Trump Organization, the control of which he has turned over to his adult sons and a senior executive, although he did not divest himself from it.

'Payments and benefits'

Trump has "conflicts of interest in at least 25 countries, and it appears he's using his presidency to maximize his profits," said Democratic Representative John Conyers.

Read more: Can President Trump avoid conflicts of interest?

"The president's failure to tell us about these emoluments, to disclose the payments and benefits that he is receiving, mean that we cannot do our job. We cannot consent to what we don't know," said Senator Richard Blumenthal. Emoluments may refer to any gains or benefits received while in office.

The lawsuit is the third of its kind since Trump's inauguration in January. Earlier this week, the attorneys general for Maryland and Washington DC filed a similar claim. In January, a group of lawyers also filed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump.

'Partisan politics'

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said on Monday that "partisan politics" was the reason behind the lawsuit submitted by the two attorneys general.

Trump's administration has maintained that the president's business interests do not violate the constitution.

Read more: US ethics chief wary of Trump's conflicts of interest

The Trump Organization has pledged to donate profits resulting from clients representing foreign governments, but has noted that it will not identify the individuals.

The plaintiffs represent the largest group of lawmakers to sue a president, a markedly rare feat in US history. Democratic lawmakers said they will invite their Republican colleagues to join their effort later Wednesday.

ls/rc (Reuters, AP)

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