Nearly 200 congressional Democrats announce lawsuit against Trump over foreign payments

Suit contends the president has violated the Constitution's emoluments clause.

The congressional lawsuit alleges that Trump through his business interests has been in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause, which prohibits government officials from accepting foreign gifts or payments without consent from Congress, since he took office in January.

The suit is set to be filed in U.S. district court on Wednesday.

"Through this measure, the nation's founders invested members of Congress with an important role in preventing the corruption and foreign influence that the founders sought to avoid," the suit reads, referring to the emoluments clause. "President Donald J. Trump has a financial interest in vast business holdings around the world that engage in dealings with foreign governments and receive benefits from those governments."

While all the signers so far are Democrats, Blumenthal and Conyers indicated that they will invite their Republican colleagues to join the suit later today.

The lawsuit asks the court to bar Trump and subsequent presidents from "accepting any benefits from foreign states without first obtaining congressional consent."

The lawsuit, the third of its kind concerning emoluments since Trump became president, comes just a few days after the Democratic attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland filed a similar suit, which also claims that Trump has been in violation of the Constitution since he took office because his business has accepted payments from foreign governments.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to that suit at a press briefing on Monday afternoon, reiterating the administration's position that Trump is not in violation of the emoluments clause and suggested that the lawsuit was motivated by politics.

"It's not hard to conclude that partisan politics may be one of the motivations behind the suit," Spicer told reporters.

A separate suit — filed earlier this year by government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United Inc. and two individuals — alleges that Trump has been in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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