Washington, DC—Following press reports suggesting that President Trump’s firing of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara may have been linked to possible investigations of Trump–including whether he violated the Constitution’s “foreign emoluments clause”–Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), along with Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, today requested that Acting United States Attorney Joon Kim pick up the investigation.
In January, CREW filed a landmark lawsuit against the president for violating the Constitution. Last Wednesday, CREW, along with fellow watchdog groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, requested Bharara investigate Trump over the allegations in CREW’s lawsuit. Two days later, the Trump administration asked Bharara to resign, despite the fact that both Trump and Attorney General Sessions had previously asked him to stay on. The next day, Bharara was fired.
“The circumstances of Bharara’s firing are troubling,” CREW Executive Director and former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder said. “Federal prosecutors should not fear that any investigations could endanger their jobs. Above all, these recent actions must not impact the United States Attorney’s investigations, particularly any investigation of serious constitutional violations.”
The legal all-star team on the emoluments case include CREW’s board chair and vice-chair Norman Eisen and Richard Painter, the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents, constitutional law scholars Erwin Chemerinsky, Laurence H. Tribe and Zephyr Teachout, and Deepak Gupta of Gupta Wessler PLLC and Joseph Sellers of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC. The Department of Justice, which is representing the president in the case, has until April 21st to file a response.
“The Constitution is clear that the president cannot take payments from foreign governments,” Bookbinder said. “We will take every legal avenue available to us to make sure that he does not.”