Investigations

Republican Ethics Lawyer Suing Trump for Violation of Constitution: 'We Are Fed Up!'

"There's money coming under the table from foreign governments to the president of the United States."

Photo Credit: vnews.tv / Shutterstock.com

President Trump will have held office for just three days before facing yet another lawsuit. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), including a team of ethics lawyers, allege that Donald Trump is in violation of the U.S. Constitution and plan to file a lawsuit on Monday, January 23.

Before taking office, President Trump failed to divest completely from his businesses. Instead he announced in a press conference mid-January that he would only be resigning from management of Trump Organization, which his adult sons would run. Richard W. Painter, a CREW member and White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, immediately slammed the plan

Painter argued that the foreign emoluments clause, which prohibits Trump's businesses from accepting payments from foreign governments, "is not limited to hotels; it encompasses any and all benefits that Trump collects from foreign governments. And since the whole Trump Organization is permeated with foreign money—and subject to an endless variety of potential advantages in foreign lands—a serious plan would have accounted for the whole empire, not just its hotels."

However, CNN's Chris Cuomo insisted in an interview with Painter that "there are no emoluments at play here."

"This is bartered for exchange, the hotel room in exchange for a fee for the room, it's not a gift, it's not in exchange for his role as president," Cuomo said. Painter began by explaining that this is not a liberal or conservative issue; it's about holding the leader of the free world accountable.

"There are millions of Americans like myself who are sick and tired of big government and the concentration of wealth among the very few people who want to control our government," Painter began.

"This is about the president who has an enormous amount of wealth overseas, who promised to release his tax returns... over and over again... and furthermore he is in violation of the Constitution if he is receiving payments from overseas, from foreign governments or from corporations controlled by foreign governments."

Painter then explained how Trump's failure to eliminate conflicts of interest could take America back centuries.

"What was the point of having a Tea Party and throwing King George's tea into Boston Harbor if you're going to have a president who is buying and selling tea from King George?" asked Painter. "Whether or not it's a fair market value, whatever that is, according to the Trump Organization."

"The rule is no benefits from foreign governments and companies controlled by foreign governments, no profits there from and we've been talking about this for months," Painter hammered. "We have been talking about this for months and we have asked the president over and over again to resolve the issue... [so] this is going to have to be resolved in court."

He also criticized Trump for using stacks of folders at his press conference to prove divestiture without letting anyone open them up.

"It's just like the tax returns!" Painter remarked."[We have] no idea what's in the envelopes, all we do know, is that [Trump has] not divested himself of his business interests."

Then, turning Trump's campaign promise to renegotiate trade deals, Painter brought up another point.

"Who does he negotiate with?" he asked Cuomo rhetorically. "Foreign governments. There's money coming under the table from foreign governments to the president of the United States in violation of the Constitution. We are fed up!"

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Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.