Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—a legal watchdog group consisting of "prominent constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators, and former White House ethics lawyers"—has announced plans to file a lawsuit on Monday alleging President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his businesses to accept money from foreign governments.
"It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office," CREW's executive director Noah Bookbinder told USA Today. "He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action."
According to the New York Times, the suit seeks to argue that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which forbids officials from receiving payments from foreign powers, in order to help prevent their being influenced by gifts or financial gains. The source goes on to state that the suit is not seeking monetary damages from Trump, but instead that a New York federal court order him to cease accepting money from all foreign government entities, including patrons at Trump hotels and tenants at his other properties.
"The framers of the Constitution were students of history," Deepak Gupta, one of the suit's lawyers, told the New York Times. "And they understood that one way a republic could fail is if foreign powers could corrupt our elected leaders."
While the White House has not yet released a statement on the manner, Trump Organization's executive vice president Eric Trump said in a statement to the Times on Sunday that the suit is "purely harassment for political gain." Meanwhile, during a press conference earlier this month, one of Trump's lawyers Sheri Dillon denied that accepting money from foreign governments staying at his hotels would be a violation of the Constitution.
"No one would have thought when the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument," she said, according to CNN.
But because Trump has repeatedly refused to divest his holdings at Trump Organization while in office, CREW argues that having foreign governments stay at one of his properties could have influence on his decisions as president.
"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," CREW wrote in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is just one of many currently in the pipeline against Trump from liberal groups hoping to challenge the president's potential conflicts of interest in court.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press.
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.