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Sens. Murray, Cantwell Join 196 Members of Congress Asking the Court to Compel President Trump to Obey the Constitution

Press Release

By: Sheldon Whitehouse, Jack Reed, Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Catherine Cortez Masto, Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Van Hollen, Jr., Ben Cardin, Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Duckworth, Dick Durbin, Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz, Chris Coons, Tom Carper, Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal, Michael Bennet, Kamala Harris, Gwen Moore, Mark Pocan, Denny Heck, Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene, Peter Welch, Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, Jr., Donald McEachin, Bobby Scott, Lloyd Doggett II, Filemon Vela, Jr., Marc Veasey, Eddie Johnson, Gene Green, Joaquin Castro, Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Jim Clyburn, Jim Langevin, David Cicilline, Mike Doyle, Jr., Brendan Boyle, Dwight Evans, Bob Brady, Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge, Marcia Kaptur, Joyce Beatty, Brian Higgins, Louise Slaughter, Paul Tonko, Sean Maloney, Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, José Serrano, Joe Crowley, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velázquez, Grace Meng, Gregory Meeks, Kathleen Rice, Ruben Kihuen, Dina Titus, Ben Lujan, Jr., Michelle Lujan Grisham, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Don Payne, Jr., Bill Pascrell, Jr., Albio Sires, Frank Pallone, Jr., Donald Norcross, Ann Kuster, Carol Shea-Porter, Alma Adams, David Price, G.K. Butterfield, Jr., Bennie Thompson, Emanuel Cleaver II, Lacy Clay, Jr., Rick Nolan, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, Brenda Lawrence, John Conyers, Jr., Debbie Dingell, Sandy Levin, Dan Kildee, Chellie Pingree, Jamie Raskin, Elijah Cummings, John Delaney, Steny Hoyer, Anthony Brown, John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger, Bill Keating, Mike Capuano, Seth Moulton, Katherine Clark, Joe Kennedy III, Niki Tsongas, Jim McGovern, Richard Neal, Cedric Richmond, John Yarmuth, André Carson, Bill Foster, Brad Schneider, Jan Schakowsky, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Danny Davis, Mike Quigley, Luis Gutiérrez, Robin Kelly, Bobby Rush, Dave Loebsack, Tulsi Gabbard, Colleen Hanabusa, John Lewis, Hank Johnson, Jr., Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Sr., Kathy Castor, Val Demings, Darren Soto, Al Lawson, Jr., Lisa Blunt Rochester, Jim Himes, Rosa DeLauro, Ed Perlmutter, Jared Polis, Diana DeGette, Susan Davis, Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Alan Lowenthal, Nanette Barragán, Maxine Waters, Mark Takano, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Linda Sánchez, Karen Bass, Norma Torres, Ted Lieu, Grace Napolitano, Pete Aguilar, Brad Sherman, Tony Cárdenas, Maria Cantwell, Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, Tim Kaine, Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, Julia Brownley, Salud Carbajal, Jimmy Panetta, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Nancy Pelosi, Mark DeSaulnier, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui, Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, Jared Huffman, Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Terri Sewell, Patty Murray
Date: June 20, 2017
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), along with 196 fellow Members of Congress, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. President Trump's ongoing failure to obtain the consent of Congress before accepting payments, benefits, or gifts from foreign states violates one of the Constitution's critical anti-corruption provisions: the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause requires that all elected officials, including the president, seek the "consent of the Congress" before receiving any gifts, payments, or benefits from foreign governments. The Constitution's Framers included such a requirement to protect against foreign influence on U.S. officials, and to ensure that those officials act in the national interest, instead of their own.

"The Constitution requires the President to obtain Congress' permission to accept private payments and gifts, and President Trump has refused to do so," said Senator Murray. "President Trump's unprecedented business dealings and conflicts of interest make it difficult for him to assure the public that he is acting in the best interest of the country and not merely working for himself or other millionaires, billionaires, and special interests. It is time for our courts to restore this necessary transparency to the White House."

"No one is above the law, not even the President. The foreign payments President Trump's businesses receive are precisely the sort of transactions forbidden in our Constitution to protect us against corruption," said Senator Cantwell.

Because President Trump has refused to disclose his business dealings abroad, the full scope of his potential Constitutional violations is unknown. Independent reporting has shown that President Trump has received the following foreign emoluments during his presidency among others:

Payments from foreign governments housing their officials in rooms or hosting events at Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel after Inauguration Day.

Entities owned by foreign states paying rent at Trump World Tower in New York City.

The Chinese government granting thirty-eight trademarks to the Trump Organization.

While President Trump continues to accept benefits from foreign governments, Congress has no choice but to seek a remedy through the courts.

"If courts rule otherwise," added Elizabeth Wydra, President of Constitutional Accountability Center, the public interest organization whose attorneys are representing Members of Congress in this case, "President Trump would be permitted to make government decisions subject to a glaring conflict of interest. The prospect that a president's decisions would be influenced by foreign manipulation or his personal wealth is exactly why the nation's Founders adopted the Foreign Emoluments Clause."

The Constitution does not require Congress to seek information about any benefits the President may be receiving from other countries -- rather, the President must come to Congress to disclose any foreign gifts or payments and to obtain permission before accepting them. Nonetheless, Members of the Senate and the House have made repeated attempts to obtain information about President Trump's business holdings and potential conflicts of interest. These and similar inquiries to Republican Congressional leadership have gone unanswered.

The full list of plaintiffs who have joined this case is available here. A Congressional Research Service analysis of suits by members of Congress found no larger action.