RADIO (NPR): Democratic Lawmakers Say Trump Is Violating The Constitution

On Wednesday, scores of Democrats in Congress filed to sue President Trump. They believe he’s violating the Emoluments Clause by profiting from foreign governments without congressional consent.

Full Transcript


There are now three lawsuits that challenge Donald Trump’s simultaneous roles of President and international business tycoon. The latest suit was filed this morning by nearly 200 Democratic senators and representatives. They say Trump is violating a part of the Constitution meant to prevent corruption from foreign governments. NPR’s Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: This latest lawsuit says Trump is ignoring the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. It requires the consent of Congress for federal officials to accept any benefits from foreign governments. In practice, this has usually meant gifts from foreign leaders and other small-scale items. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, says Trump shouldn’t be treated any differently.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: The scope and scale of President Trump’s holdings across the globe are truly unprecedented. But that’s no excuse for refusing to obey the Constitution.

OVERBY: Blumenthal is a leader among the 196 senators and representatives, all Democrats, who signed up as plaintiffs for the lawsuit. He said Congress ought to be conducting oversight to prevent corruption involving The Trump Organization’s business dealings overseas.

BLUMENTHAL: This story is unfolding in real time. He is receiving additional payments, benefits, advantages from these foreign governments. And it will continue.

OVERBY: The lawsuit grew out of research by the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive organization that describes itself as part law firm, part think tank. Elizabeth Wydra is the center’s president. She said the center has been working on this issue for years.

ELIZABETH WYDRA: The Emoluments Clause and frankly the word emoluments was not sort of the obscure thing that it might seem to modern Americans but was rather a crucial part of the various anti-corruption provisions that were written into the Constitution at the founding.

OVERBY: Law Professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University has doubts that the Democrats’ argument will get traction in federal courts. But if any of the three lawsuits gets as far as the discovery phase, President Trump could have to disclose considerable financial details. Adler says that might lead to what the Democrats are seeking – congressional oversight of emoluments.

JONATHAN ADLER: Ideally Congress would be engaged in that question. And it’s certainly possible that more disclosure could induce Congress to fulfill its responsibility in that regard.

OVERBY: So far, that kind of oversight is something Republican leaders in Congress haven’t wanted to touch. And meanwhile, the Trump White House rejects the claims in the three lawsuits. In a filing last week, the Justice Department said the flow of foreign wealth to Trump companies doesn’t fit the Constitution’s definition of emoluments. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

More from

Corporate Accountability

Intuit, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission

In Intuit Inc v. Federal Trade Commission, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is considering whether the FTC’s authority to issue cease-and-desist orders against false and misleading advertising is constitutional.
Rule of Law
June 20, 2024

Opinion | The tragedy of the Supreme Court’s bump stock ruling

Washington Post
Don’t let technicalities, or a refusal to use common sense, become the enemy of public...
By: Nina Henry
Access to Justice
June 20, 2024

RELEASE: Supreme Court rejects artificial limit on liability for speech-based retaliation by government officers

WASHINGTON, DC – Following today’s Supreme Court decision in Gonzalez v. Trevino, a case in...
By: Brian R. Frazelle
Civil and Human Rights
June 20, 2024

RELEASE: Supreme Court decision keeps the door open to accountability for police officers who make false charges

WASHINGTON, DC – Following this morning’s decision at the Supreme Court in Chiaverini v. City...
By: Brian R. Frazelle
Corporate Accountability
June 20, 2024

RELEASE: In narrow ruling, Supreme Court rejects baseless effort to shield corporate-derived income from taxation

WASHINGTON, DC – Following this morning’s decision at the Supreme Court in Moore v. United...
By: Brian R. Frazelle
Rule of Law
June 19, 2024

The Supreme Court’s approach on ‘history and tradition’ is irking Amy Coney Barrett

Washington (CNN) — On a Supreme Court where the conservative supermajority increasingly leans on history as a...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, Devan Cole, John Fritze