President Trump comes to the office of the president with a background in business. As the top executive in the country, it is not surprising that he has created some potentially tangled business interests. In an effort to force him to begin to untangle them, officials in two parts of the country have decided to take him to court.
Two Attorneys General
The Democratic attorneys general of both the District of Columbia and Maryland have filed specific lawsuits. They have gone to court to make the argument that his failure to create a plan to separate his business interests from his powers as president have undermined the important trust the public has in the highest office in the land. Both officials also claim that there a constitutional ban that requires him to do so in order to maintain the integrity of the office.
This new lawsuit mirrors some of the criticisms that have been made against the president by various outside organizations. However, as this one is being made by elected public officials, it has more force and more credibility and well as stronger grounds in which to force the president to act. The new lawsuit is also expected to go further in the court system than prior lawsuits that have been filed in order to achieve a similar result.
A Possible Additional Lawsuit
In addition to this lawsuit, many Democrats are also thinking of ways they can force the president to comply with existing regulations governing the office of the president as well as prior precedents that were set by other office holders in the past. Some Democrats in Congress are also known to be planning a specific lawsuit of their own.
Laws Governing Conduct
The American constitution has long prohibited presidents from taking any gifts or what are called emoluments from any foreign governments. However, while this precedent exists, it has not been explored in great depth or defined by the court system. It is clear the president cannot take any compensation other than his salary. It is not clear what the word emolument means legally.
Both Brian E. Frosh and Karl Racine, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, want to obtain copies of the president's tax returns. Despite prior precedent, the current president is the first not to release his tax documents since Richard Nixon. The two elected officials firmly believe that the current president has not been transparent enough in his dealings with the public, leading people to question if he's acting in the best interests of the United States or the best interests of his private personal business.
The Justice Department had no official response to the lawsuit. However, officials stated in a prior brief that they do not believe the constitution prohibits a sitting president from owning a business even when he's serving as president. They also state that Congress rather than a federal judge should act. Republic party officials agree with the Justice Department and state the public has not been harmed. In response, the attorney generals argue that he diverts business away from businesses that officials either own outright or derive revenue from in the form of taxes. Legal officials remain skeptical that any lawsuits have any standing to force any changes.
June 26 2017