A liberal watchdog group announced plans over the weekend to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump just four days into his presidency arguing that he has already violated the Constitution.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in a press release late Sunday that they are filing a federal lawsuit Monday to "stop President Trump from violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments."
According to CREW, the suit will argue that Trump has violated the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause, which "prohibits Trump from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress," according to the group.
At the center of the issue is Trump's failure to fully divest himself from his business empire, which continues to do business with foreign governments and businesses owned by foreign governments, CREW alleges.
Trump said after being elected president late last year that he would transfer power and ownership of his businesses to his two sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, to prevent any appearance of conflicts of interest and avoid violating federal law or the Constitution.
The president doubled down on that promise two weeks ago during a press conference, parading a mountain of manila envelopes in front of the press that reportedly contained the documents that would divest him from his businesses. However, according to ProPublica, as of last week, Trump still hadn't filed the necessary paperwork in various states to fully divest himself from his businesses or establish a blind trust that would relinquish his control of all Trump businesses.
"We did not want to get to this point. It was our hope that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. "He did not. His constitutional violations are immediate and serious, so we were forced to take legal action."
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Since Trump refused to divest from his businesses, he is now getting cash and favors from foreign governments, through guests and events at his hotels, leases in his buildings, and valuable real estate deals abroad. Trump does business with countries like China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, and now that he is President, his company’s acceptance of any benefits from the governments of those countries violates the Constitution. When Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman.
Still, during Trump's press conference last month, his lawyer, Sheri Dillon, said that Trump would in no way be in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause under Trump's business plan.
"Paying for a hotel room is not a gift or a present, and has nothing to do with an office," she said, according to Politico. "It is not an emolument. The Constitution does not require President-elect Trump to do anything here."
Eric Trump, in a short statement to the New York Times about the impending suit, said CREW is merely filing the lawsuit for political "harassment."
"This is purely harassment for political gain, and, frankly, I find it very, very sad," he told the Times Sunday.
CREW said they plan to file their lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Monday morning when the district court house opens at 9 a.m.