U.S. President Donald Trump has been issued a summons by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and the neighboring state of Maryland, alleging his business activities are violating a clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The summons issued earlier this week is addressed to Trump in both “his official capacity and his individual capacity.”
The lawsuit alleges that representatives from foreign governments who stay at Trump’s hotels constitute a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution because the money they pay for lodging constitutes a gift to the president from a foreign government. Such gifts to the president are prohibited unless they are approved by Congress.
It also alleges that local businesses suffer because important foreign visitors may opt to stay at a Trump property as a means of currying favor with the president.
The president’s legal representatives have three weeks to respond.
A New York court dismissed a similar case in December, saying the issue brought by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics was something Congress ought to address, rather than the courts.
That case was appealed in February.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told the Associated Press in February that this is the first time anyone has tried to sue a president as an individual for violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
When Trump took office, he failed to divest himself completely from his business interests, but handed over control of the businesses to his adult children.