WASHINGTON (WJZ) — In an unprecedented move, Maryland’s attorney general files a lawsuit against the president. It’s all over an anti- corruption clause in the constitution and it accuses the president of accepting millions in payments from foreign governments since he took office.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren reports the lawsuit centers around the president’s business dealings.
This is part of a larger effort to get the president to remove himself from the Trump organization while he’s in office. Attorney General Frosh says it’s a threat to democracy. But the Republican National Committee called the lawsuit absurd political grandstanding.
Maryland’s attorney general and his D.C. counterpart became the first local governments to sue President Trump, claiming he violated the constitution by accepting payments and gifts from foreign governments, and that his global business empire is so entangled with foreign interests it’s created a conflict that’s put the nation at risk.
“This is not partisan. We happen to be two Democratic attorney generals. I think clearly, Brian and my comments and if you take a look at the complaint, would apply if for whatever reason in the future, Oprah Winfrey or Mark Zuckerberg became president,” says DC Attorney General Karl Racine.
The president has repeatedly said he’s done enough to separate himself from his business interests. He’s created a trust and insists he’s given up daily management in the Trump Organization.
“He is completely isolating himself from his business interests,” says Trump lawyer Shari Dillon.
“They may feel that they had the ability to buy favorable treatment from the president. And that’s a terrible appearance for our democracy,” says Real estate trust lawyer Fred Tansill.
Republican critics say Frosh is playing politics.
“It’s not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations behind this. The suit was filed by two Democratic attorney generals. The lawyers driving the suit are an advocacy group with partisan ties,” says White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
The general assembly recently gave attorney general frosh unchecked power to sue. He wants to change the way the President does business. The unprecedented lawsuit charts new legal ground and is also asking for Trump’s tax returns.
“It’s information that every other president has provided to the people of the United States,” says Frosh.
There’s been no comment from Governor Larry Hogan. Attorney General Frosh also says that the Trump Hotel is me is unfair competition to venues in Maryland. And that is also part of the complaint.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the president plans to have the lawsuit dismissed.