WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine issued the following statement in response to today’s filing by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting dismissal of the District of Columbia and Maryland’s lawsuit against President Trump. The DOJ motion is the President’s first official legal response to the suit, which Attorney General Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh filed in June, accusing the President of violating the Constitution’s two Emoluments Clauses.
“Nothing in the Justice Department’s motion changes our view that President Trump has violated the Constitution’s original anti-corruption provisions,” said Attorney General Racine. “Since taking office, President Trump has continued to own, control, and profit from business interests around the world. By accepting benefits from foreign and domestic government actors, he is opening himself up to the type of divided loyalties and undue influence that the Constitution seeks to prevent. President Trump must take the same kind of clear, transparent steps that all other Presidents in recent history have taken and separate his personal business interests from the official business of the United States.”
The joint District/Maryland lawsuit alleges that President Trump’s wide-ranging business entanglements with foreign and domestic government actors violate the Constitution’s Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses.
The Emoluments Clauses are anti-corruption provisions included in the Constitution. They shield government officials from outside influence and ensure that they are motivated by the nation’s interests, rather than their own bottom lines. The Foreign Emoluments Clause bars officials from accepting money or items of value from foreign governments unless Congress grants an exception. The Domestic Emoluments Clause bars officials from accepting money or things of value—outside of their direct compensation—from the states or the federal government. In this way, the clauses prevent government entities from currying favor or exerting undue influence over officials.
According to the complaint, “[u]ncertainty about whether the President is acting in the best interests of the American people, or rather for his own ends or personal enrichment, inflicts lasting harm on our democracy. The Framers of the Constitution foresaw that possibility, and acted to prevent that harm.”
The suit seeks an injunction to put a stop to the President’s constitutional violations. More information can be found here: https://oag.dc.gov/page/emoluments-lawsuit