Three days after Trump was inaugurated as President, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal watchdog group, filed suit in New York's Southern District alleging that he had not liquidated his business interests and was in violation of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. Specifically that the President can not receive foreign gifts or funds.
The Department of Justice filed a response on behalf of the President on Friday. The government is requesting the suit be dismissed, citing Trump's similarities to President George Washington. The argument notes that Washington sold crops to England, Portugal and Jamaica.
"Historical evidence confirms that the Emoluments Clauses were not designed to reach commercial transactions that a President (or other federal officials ) may engage in as an ordinary citizen through his business enterprises,"
"At the time of the Nation’s founding, government officials were not given generous compensations, and many federal officials were employed with the understanding that they would continue to have income from private pursuits."
"Neither the text nor the history of the clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power," the filing reads. "Were plaintiffs' interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited 'emoluments.'"
CREW said in a statement. "We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court."
The liberal watchdog group is made up of former White House special counsel Norman Eisen; former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter; University of California, Irvine law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky; American Constitution Society cofounder Laurence H. Tribe; emoluments expert Zephyr Teachout; and appellate lawyer Deepak Gupta.