Much of the complaint stems from a lawsuit filed by liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington earlier this year, but supporters of the Maryland-D.C. lawsuit hope that Racine and Frosh can push further ahead than their predecessors due to their positions in the US government.
The Justice Department filed papers on Friday asking a judge to dismiss the NY suit, arguing that the challengers lack standing to sue, and that the emoluments clauses don't apply to the types of private commercial transactions at issue. The government also said Trump hotel revenue does not fit the definition of an improper payment under the constitution.
"That is the indispensable foundation of a democracy", said Attorney General Frosh. In what was the administration's first detailed response to corruption allegations, the Department of Justice filed a 70 page brief Friday arguing the suit should be dismissed.
The lawsuit, which Racine and Frosh described to The Washington Post on Sunday night, could open a new front for Trump as he navigates dueling investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees of possible collusion between his associates and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to the agency, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S state of Maryland.
Can states force President Trump to sell off his businesses?
Trump's lawyers maintain that market-rate payments for goods and services at Trump's hotels, golf courses and other businesses are not "emoluments" as defined by the Constitution. The domestic emoluments clause forbids the president from receiving any other "emolument" while he's in office, generally defined as a payment or other financial benefit.
On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the new state-backed lawsuit.
RACINE: President Trump is flagrantly violating the Constitution which explicitly bars presidents from receiving gifts or inducements from foreign or domestic government entities. Both are Democrats while the president is a Republican.
Trump has said he would put his assets in a trust to be managed by his sons. Racine said he felt the need to sue the president to be the check and balance that it appears Congress is unwilling to be. It comes amid investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller III of conspiracy between Trump associates and the Russian government during the presidential campaign past year.
At a January press conference, Trump said he would step back from daily operations of his businesses but would not be divesting.
In January, Trump promised to track and donate all profits from foreign government travel and commerce at his companies to the U.S. Treasury.