In the latest bid to hold Donald Trump to account for refusing to sufficiently distance himself from his business empire, nearly 200 congressional Democrats filed a lawsuit (pdf) on Wednesday alleging the president has "repeatedly and flagrantly" violated the Constitution's emoluments clause.
"Unfortunately, we're now living with what will likely be known as the most corrupt administration in American history."
—Robert Weissman, Public Citizen
"It is the third such lawsuit against Mr. Trump on the issue since he became president," the New York Times noted, "part of a coordinated effort by the president's critics to force him to reveal his business entanglements and either sell off his holdings or put them in a blind trust."
The Times added this is likely "the most members of Congress to ever sue a sitting president."
This suit comes shortly after attorneys general from Maryland and the District of Columbia announced that they, too, are suing Trump for what they called "unprecedented constitutional violations."
The lawmakers' suit makes similar charges, arguing the "gifts and benefits" the president's businesses have received from foreign leaders may have compelled him to "put personal interest over national interest."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who is leading the effort, said the suit is a direct result of Trump's refusal to seek congressional approval for profits received from foreign governments, as required by the Emoluments Clause. Some of the president's actions that constitute violations, the lawsuit argues, include "collecting payments from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels and accepting trademark approvals from foreign governments for his company's goods and services," the Times reported.
The lawsuit says, in part:
Because [President Trump] is not coming to Congress and identifying the emoluments he wishes to accept, the American people will have no way of knowing whether his actions as President reflect only his beliefs about what is best for the country, or whether they are partly motivated by personal financial considerations.
Blumenthal argued that because of the "unique role" the framers granted members of Congress, they have "standing [to sue] that no one else has."
In a statement released on Wednesday, Public Citizen applauded this latest move to hold the president accountable and to uncover elements of his business dealings that he has persistently refused to disclose.
"The framers were so attuned to the threat that corruption poses to a working democracy that they wrote anti-corruption measures into the nation's foundational document," said Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. "Unfortunately, we're now living with what will likely be known as the most corrupt administration in American history."