Democratic attorneys general suing Trump deny it’s about politics
WASHINGTON — The two Democratic state attorneys general who sued President Donald Trump Monday over what they allege are his unconstitutional business practices told VICE News they didn’t even try reaching out to their Republican colleagues to see if they’d join them.
That, they said, would have been a waste of time.
The suit, which you can read in full below, was brought by Democrats Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, and Brian Frosh, the Maryland attorney general. It takes aim at Trump’s ongoing dealings with his titular real estate empire, which now regularly hosts and takes payments from foreign governments — an arrangement the attorneys contend is a violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
Some Republicans in Congress have expressed concern over Trump’s business ties, and a former Bush administration lawyer is one of the people behind an earlier lawsuit calling into question Trump’s business practices, but the Republican National Committee said in statement that this latest suit is “absurd.”
“I don’t expect them to help us out,” Frosh said of Republican state attorneys general. “I mean, I think if you talk to them privately, if you gave them Sodium Pentothal, they would say, ‘This is a big deal.’”
Attorneys general are typically elected officials, and Frosh speculated a desire to be re-elected would prevent Republicans from getting involved.
“They’re afraid that the Republican base, which has gotten very right wing, would throw them out in a primary,” he said. “They would be recognized as statesmen across the country, but in a Republican primary in a Republican state, you get the most extreme right-wing elements voting, and they wouldn’t survive.”
While involvement with the suit represents a political minefield for Republicans, it’s potentially a political boon for Racine and Frosh. They both were elected in Democratic-leaning places and have Democratic voters to appease if they want to keep their jobs. Many of those voters are happy about anything that makes Trump’s life even a little more difficult, and the lawsuit does that.
But the two men insist politics did not play a part in their decision to file the suit.
“If Mark Cuban or [Mark] Zuckerberg from Facebook run for president in 2020 and get elected,” Racine said, “and they decide to continue their business enterprises, and their business enterprises are getting money from foreign governments, we’ll sue them, too.”
Frosh agreed: “Damn right.”