Nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have filed a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump has violated the Constitution’s “foreign emoluments clause” by retaining interest in his business empire.
Thirty members of the Senate Democratic caucus are among the signatories to the legal effort, along with 166 House members. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and House Judiciary Ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr., are the leaders of the effort.
Among those not listed as a party to the court filing obtained by CQ Roll Call is Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
The members filing suit contend that they have standing because the president’s business ventures are accepting foreign money without the consent of Congress.
“Because the Foreign Emoluments Clause requires the President to obtain ‘the Consent of the Congress’ before accepting otherwise prohibited ‘Emolument[s],’ Plaintiffs, as members of Congress, must have the opportunity to cast a binding vote that gives or withholds their ‘Consent’ before the President accepts any such ‘Emolument,'” the lawmakers argue.
“Because Defendant has failed to come to Congress and seek its consent for at least some foreign emoluments that have been the subject of public reporting, it is impossible to know whether Defendant has also accepted, or plans to accept, other foreign emoluments that have not yet been made public,” the lawmakers said in their court filing. “By accepting these benefits from foreign states without first seeking or obtaining congressional approval, Defendant has thwarted the transparency that the ‘Consent of the Congress’ provision was designed to provide. “
The lawsuit, which has been filed in federal district court in D.C., would add to the president’s legal woes on the questions surrounding his business holdings.
Earlier this week, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that they had filed a lawsuit against Trump claiming his business ties violate the emoluments clause.
Critics have raised concerns about the number of foreign officials and diplomats booking into Trump properties.
The emoluments clause states that an officeholder cannot accept, without the consent of Congress, “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
The Washington Post, which reported on the imminent filing overnight, also reported that the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
After the lawsuit was filed by Racine and Frosh, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that it was “not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations.”