One would think, he added, that Trump, who made his slogan “America First” would “want to strictly follow the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause since it was written to ensure our government officials are thinking of Americans first, and not foreign governments.”
The lawsuit could face significant legal hurdles, such as CREW’s standing to sue. Generally speaking, to file a lawsuit alleging wrongdoing, the plaintiff must show they’ve suffered specific harm from that wrongdoing. Who would Trump hurt by violating the Emoluments Clause? CREW says it was, arguing in its lawsuit that it “has been forced to divert essential and limited resources – including time and money – from other important matters that it ordinarily would have been handling to the Foreign Emoluments Clause issues involving Defendant, which have consumed the attention of the public and the media.”
“CREW’s whole purpose is about combating corruption in the federal government,” said CREW vice-chair Richard Painter. “So up until this point, the two major causes of corruption in the government were the revolving door in Washington and campaign finance. The vast majority of resources were spent on that. It was a two-front war and now this opens up a third front. The injury to the organization is that it’s much more difficult to accomplish the organization’s mission.”
A Trump representative referred all inquiries to Morgan Lewis & Bockius, a law firm representing the president on ethics matters; a representative for the firm said it does not “comment on our clients or the work we do for them.” At an earlier news conference, however, Sherri A. Dillon, a partner with the firm, dismissed suggestions that Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause. “No one would have thought when the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument,” she said at the time.
The president’s son Eric Trump, who is an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, insisted the company had taken more steps than required by law to avoid possible legal exposure, such as agreeing to donate any profits collected at Trump-owned hotels that come from foreign government guests to the U.S. Treasury. “This is purely harassment for political gain,” he told the New York Times, “and, frankly, I find it very, very sad.”