President Trump, whose administration is still in its infancy, has just been slapped with yet another lawsuit over his finances.
Allegations have long been brought against Trump that he is violating constitutional law by keeping a significant stake in his businesses while serving as President of the United States.
The Constitution dictates that the president is forbidden from receiving benefits from foreign governments while in office unless those benefits are approved by Congress. Trump’s many businesses are often used by foreign nationals, including diplomats from nations that Trump is supposed to be forming an unbiased foreign policy towards as president. Thus, many individuals say, Trump is violating the Constitution’s protection against conflicts of interest and his foreign policy decision making can’t be assured to be legitimate.
The president claims to be addressing this issue via having handed over executive control of his businesses to his two adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr. The president says that although he ultimately has a financial stake in the businesses, that because of him handing over executive control he doesn’t actually have a personal knowledge of the relationship of foreign interests’ activities to his finances.
That explanation hasn’t sat well with many however, and as mentioned a number of lawsuits have been filed to try and force Trump to comply more explicitly with the Constitutional precedents about a president’s personal finances.
That’s not the focus of this latest lawsuit, however. The latest lawsuit to be brought against Trump zeroes in on his financial disclosure statements that he filed at the start of his presidential candidacy.
Attorney Jeffrey Lovitky claims that Trump was not entirely forthcoming on these forms, mixing up personal and business debts. Public data makes it abundantly clear that Trump’s debts far outnumber those listed on his financial disclosure forms, so Lovitky wants answers. He’s not seeking damages; rather, he simply wants the court to compel Trump to refile his financial disclosure form.
The issue is that any outstanding personal debts on Trump’s part might create conflicts of interest beyond those that could be created by the president pursuing any new foreign interest involved financial endeavors as president. If Trump is already significantly in debt to questionable foreign interests, then the fact that he’s handed over executive control of his businesses to his two adult sons becomes a completely irrelevant point.
Lovitky commented to POLITICO of the case:
‘Really the question is concerning the liabilities held by the LLCs [limited liability corporations] and we just need more information to be able to know whether or not those are personal or business liabilities. If you just look at the [financial disclosure] statement on its face, all those liabilities are assumed to be personal liabilities, but I just do not think that’s the case. I have information that says otherwise.’
Multiple Trump representatives declined to comment on the case. POLITICO says that the lawsuit has been referred to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.
Featured Image via Olivier Douliery/ Pool via Bloomberg/ Getty Images.