That's the Justice Department's take on why the 45th president isn't violating the U.S. Constitution by accepting payments for goods and services from foreign governments without congressional approval.
"Had the Framers intended the Emoluments Clauses to encompass benefits arising from a federal official's private commercial transactions with a foreign state, or in case of a President, with a foreign, federal, or state instrumentality, surely someone would have raised concerns about whether foreign governments or government-owned corporations may have been among the customers of the farm and other products regularly exported by early Presidents", the court doc said. The group maintained that Trump violated the emoluments clause because his properties collect rent and receive other payments from foreign governments.
Before he took office, Mr. Trump promised his businesses would donate any proceeds from foreign governments to charity. They asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought against Trump by ethics campaigners, arguing that it would have "absurd consequences" such as blocking some sales of books such as Obama's. In their 70-page filing on Friday, the justice department attorneys argued that the president's arrangements were in keeping with precedents dating back to the country's founding fathers.
"We heartily disagree and look forward to our day in court", stated the CREW spokesperson.
Trump announced in January he would turn over operation of his businesses to his sons, Eric and Donald Jr., and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
CREW has five weeks to file a response. The Trump Organization also pledged not to make any business deals outside of the USA while Trump was still President.
In requesting that a judge in NY dismiss a case brought against Trump for violating government ethics rules, the Justice Department on Friday appeased a president who has routinely asserted that his business is, well, his business, and he can use his office to line his and his family's pockets in any way he sees fit. The lawsuit, filed days after Trump's inauguration by a legal watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), aims to force Trump to divest from his businesses by arguing that he is constitutionally forbidden from accepting money from foreign governments while serving as president. "There have been many presidents before him".
CREW has been actively calling out Trump's administration on ethics issues, including demanding to see the president's tax returns. His "business interests are creating countless conflicts of interest, as well as unprecedented influence by foreign governments", leading to "numerous" violations of the Constitution, according to the CREW complaint. "However, the relief sought in this case - forcing the President to restructure his financial affairs in order to comply with Plaintiffs" interpretation of the Constitution -cannot fairly be described as purely "ministerial'".