A trio of watchdog groups has asked the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York to investigate whether President Trump has received payments or other benefits from foreign governments through his business interests in violation of an obscure clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The request, sent by letter Wednesday morning to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, is a novel strategy by ethics critics who have been pressing Trump to comply with the Constitution’s “emoluments clause,” which prohibits top officials from receiving payments or favors from foreign governments. Trump’s business empire stretches across the globe. The letter was sent six weeks after one of the groups filed a lawsuit in federal district court making a similar claim.
Trump has said he addressed ethics concerns by turning over management of his business to his adult sons, who’ve said they have separated the family business from their relationship with their father and the U.S. government.
“There are lines we would never cross,” Eric Trump told The Washington Postin a recent interview, “and that’s mixing business with anything government.”