Nets Hype President Trump Being Sued by Maryland and D.C. AG’s

President Trump found himself, once again, at the receiving end of a high-profile lawsuit involving his business dealings on Monday. The Attorneys General of both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a suit claiming the Present was in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which states that an office holder cannot receive payments or gifts from a foreign power. The Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) highlighted the suit while they openly hoped that it would allow them to see Trump’s tax returns.

“President Trump facing a historic constitutional challenge tonight,” announced ABC Anchor David Muir during World News Tonight, as he speculated. “At issue, is the President profiting from money coming in from foreign entities, helping everything from his hotels to his golf courses?”

Muir handed the segment off to Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross who seemed quite giddy as he started his report:

Today’s landmark lawsuit claims the President is using his official position to market his business enterprises, with the focus on the Trump hotel in Washington, which has pitched foreign governments and their supporters to hold big events here. Just three weeks ago, a group from Turkey and a month before Trump took office, the celebration of Bahrain Day with the hotel charging Bahrain $100,000.

Ross did note that both Attorneys General were Democrats, but dismissed the White House’s depiction of the lawsuit as mere “partisan politics.”

On CBS Evening News, Correspondent Margaret Brennan seemed to paint the lawsuit as calling Trump out for a betrayal. “The Democratic attorneys general of D.C. and Maryland Karl Racine and Brian Frosh accused President Trump of breaking a promise to separate his private business interests from his public duties,” she reported.

In addition to highlighting how the press might actually get to see Trump’s tax returns because of the suit, Brennan also strangely pointed out how the suit claimed that Trump was violating the federal lease on the building is D.C. hotel was in:

The suit also claims that the U.S. government has granted Mr. Trump financial favors, such as allowing him to keep the lease on the old post office as the site of his Washington, D.C., hotel, even though the original contract, made when Mr. Trump was a private citizen, barred any elected official from remaining on the lease.

What makes it strange is that it flies in the face of past CBS reporting on the matter of Trump’s lease of the building. Back on March 23, CBS Anchor Scott Pelley was the only one on network news to report that Trump was not in violation of the lease. “Today a federal agency ruled that President Trump's hotel at a historic former post office building in Washington is not violating its lease,” he said at the time. “The General Services Administration says there is no violation because the President has transferred his businesses to his children and will not get any money from the hotel.”

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Meanwhile, on NBC Nightly News, Justice Correspondent Pete Williams touted how the suit was “adding new legal firepower to challenge President Trump's worldwide business holdings.” He then played a clip of one of the attorneys general mocking Trump by equating the emoluments clause to a “wall” he couldn’t get around.

Williams also seemed excited by the idea of the press receiving access to Trump’s tax returns. “But legal experts say, even if today's lawsuit doesn't ultimately succeed, it could force the President to turn over revealing financial records,” he explained. “And request number one will be his tax returns to see if there is any basis behind these allegations that they are made, that could be very significant,” former FEC Lawyer Kenneth Gross told Williams.

NBC had been in this position of championing a lawsuit against the President for his business dealings once before. During the March 9 edition of NBC Nightly News, Williams hyped a similar lawsuit against the President by two “active” liberal wine bar owners. The first lawsuit appears to have been unsuccessful since neither Williams nor any other network news outlet has followed up on their case.

At the end of her report, Brennan finally mentioned that “this is the first lawsuit of its kind. Really no precedent to prejudge its outcome.” And despite that fact, the Big Three Networks seemed to be getting their hopes up that it would hurt the President.

Transcripts below:

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ABC
World News Tonight
June 12, 2017
6:42:10 PM Eastern

DAVID MUIR: Back here now, President Trump facing a historic constitutional challenge tonight. At issue, is the President profiting from money coming in from foreign entities, helping everything from his hotels to his golf courses? The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia filing suit, no president has been challenged on the so-called emoluments clause before. And here’s ABC’s Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross.

[Cuts to video]

BRIAN ROSS: Today’s landmark lawsuit claims the President is using his official position to market his business enterprises, with the focus on the Trump hotel in Washington, which has pitched foreign governments and their supporters to hold big events here. Just three weeks ago, a group from Turkey and a month before Trump took office, the celebration of Bahrain Day with the hotel charging Bahrain $100,000.

(…)

KARL RACINE: We know that the foreign governments are spending money there in order to curry favor with the President of the United States.

ROSS: Today the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland, both Democrats, filed the lawsuit because Donald Trump is in violation of the constitution. Which prohibits foreign payments to the president.

(…)

ROSS: And David, today the White House called the lawsuit brought by the attorneys general nothing but partisan politics.

...

CBS Evening News
June 12, 2017
6:35:38 PM Eastern

SCOTT PELLEY: Today the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia sued President Trump, accusing him of violating anti-corruption clauses in the constitution. Margaret Brennan is at the White House.

[Cuts to video]

KARL RACINE: Never in the history of this country have we had a president with these kinds of extensive business entanglements.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Democratic attorneys general of D.C. and Maryland Karl Racine and Brian Frosh accused President Trump of breaking a promise to separate his private business interests from his public duties.

BRIAN FROSH: It puts democracy at risk when the president is corruptible.

BRENNAN: President Trump retained ownership of the Trump organization through a trust, managed by his sons. The lawsuit alleges the President is in violation of two anti-corruption provisions of the constitution known as the emoluments clauses, because his position has enabled them to benefit personally from payments made to the company.

(…)

BRENNAN: One example cited in the lawsuit is that the President's company still receives lease payments from a Chinese bank. To address such conflicts, the Trump organization has said it will donate those profits from foreign entities to the U.S. Treasury.

Why is that not good enough, and do you have any evidence so far that there has been an influence on policy?

FROSH: The point is that the appearance and the fact of his taking payments from foreign countries violates the constitution.

BRENNAN: The suit also claims that the U.S. government has granted Mr. Trump financial favors, such as allowing him to keep the lease on the old post office as the site of his Washington, D.C., hotel, even though the original contract, made when Mr. Trump was a private citizen, barred any elected official from remaining on the lease.

(…)

[Cuts back to live]

BRENNAN: Now, while President Trump has declined to follow the tradition of publicly releasing his tax returns, the attorneys general will ask the court to demand their release in order to show the extent of his business interests, including any loans. Scott, this is the first lawsuit of its kind. Really no precedent to prejudge its outcome.

...

NBC Nightly News
June 12, 2017
7:06:31 PM Eastern

LESTER HOLT: The President also facing new legal challenges tonight. His continued business dealings have prompted a new lawsuit accusing him of conflicts of interest and violating the constitution. Our Justice Correspondent Pete Williams has those details.

[Cuts to video]

PETE WILLIAMS: Adding new legal firepower to challenge President Trump's worldwide business holdings, Maryland and the District of Colombia say he's violating the constitution's ban on public officials receiving presents or payments from foreign sources. Those provisions are walls their suit says against presidential corruption.

(…)

WILLIAMS: But in a filing last week in a related case, the Justice Department says the Constitution only blocks a president from accepting a gift for personally performing some service for a foreign country.

Easily the rich's president in modern times, his business ties raise a legal question that hasn't come up before and the lawsuit faces long odds. But legal experts say, even if today's lawsuit doesn't ultimately succeed, it could force the President to turnover revealing financial records.

KENNETH GROSS: And request number one will be his tax returns to see if there is any basis behind these allegations that they are made, that could be very significant.

[Cuts back to live]

WILLIAMS: The White House calls this lawsuit partisan politics.

(…)

NB Daily Foreign Policy Conspiracy Theories Covert Liberal Activists Labeling Political Groups Liberals & Democrats ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News NBC NBC Nightly News Video U.S. Constitution Scott Pelley Margaret Brennan Pete Williams David Muir Brian Ross Donald Trump

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