Payments from foreign powers to Trump firms violate constitution lawsuit

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Impending suit by a legal watchdog accuses newly inaugurated president of violating US constitutions emoluments clause

A US legal watchdog is to file a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of violating the US constitution by allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments.

The lawsuit, brought by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, will allege that the constitutions emoluments clause forbids payments to Trumps businesses. It will seek a court order on Monday forbidding Trump from accepting such payments, said Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers working on the case.

Trump does business with countries including China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, the group noted in a statement.

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, it said.

A Trump representative referred questions to a law firm representing the president on ethics matters.

We do not comment on our clients or the work we do for them, said the representative of the firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

The case is part of a wave of litigation expected to be filed against Trump by liberal advocacy groups. It will be filed in a Manhattan federal court, Gupta said, and attorneys for the plaintiffs will include Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer in George W Bushs White House.

The impending lawsuit was earlier reported by the New York Times.

Trumps son Eric, an executive vice-president of the Trump Organization, told the NYT on Sunday that the company had taken more steps than required by law to avoid any possible legal exposure, such as agreeing to donate any profits collected at Trump-owned hotels that come from foreign government guests to the US Treasury.

This is purely harassment for political gain, he told the newspaper. (

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