WASHINGTON (DPA) - Congressional Democrats filed a legal brief in federal court on Tuesday (Oct 22) asserting that President Donald Trump's promotion of his Doral resort for the Group of Seven summit was further evidence he has violated the Emoluments Clause, despite his decision to reverse course.
The initial announcement last week - from Mr Trump's acting chief of staff, Mr Mick Mulvaney, as he stood behind the official White House podium - provided the President's personal property with "invaluable publicity" that in and of itself may amount to an emolument, a House Democratic source said.
Democratic lawmakers and their aides debated how to proceed over the weekend, after the President tweeted that he had reversed the decision and would not hold the G-7 summit at his Florida resort, only three days after Mr Mulvaney's announcement.
The office of Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, confirmed to the McClatchy website that the brief had been filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday, explicitly citing the selection of Trump National Doral Miami as evidence that Mr Trump is profiting off the presidency.
Mr Blumenthal is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against Mr Trump by 30 Democratic senators and 166 House members in 2017.
"The President may have decided, for now, not to go ahead with his plan to hold the G-7 summit at his Doral resort, but the fact that he even thought about it underscores once again that he has zero regard for the Foreign Emoluments Clause," Mr Blumenthal said in a statement to McClatchy.
"That's why my lawsuit to hold the President accountable to the Constitution is so important."
The lawsuit, Blumenthal v Trump, has survived Mr Trump's efforts to have the case dismissed on the grounds that members of Congress do not have standing to sue.
In the spring, the US District Court for the District of Columbia found that the lawmakers, in fact, do have standing.
"As we note there, the President's attempt to award the G-7 summit to his Doral resort shows how increasingly brazen he's becoming," Mr Blumenthal said.
Mr Trump dismissed questions over the constitutionality of the Doral selection on Monday when pressed by reporters.
"You people with this phoney Emoluments Clause," Mr Trump said.
The Emoluments Clause refers to a provision of the US Constitution that prohibits politicians from accepting "present, emolument, office or title of any kind" from foreign states while in office.
"I would say that it's cost me anywhere from US$2 to US$5 billion to be president, and that's OK. Between what I lose and what I could have made, I would have made a fortune, I would have just ran my business.
"I was doing it very well. I have a great business and the best properties," Mr Trump added.
Some of Mr Trump's most staunch Republican defenders on Capitol Hill - from Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - also brushed off questions last week about whether the selection of Doral was problematic, from a legal perspective or simply as a matter of optics.
Professor Julian Zelizer, who teaches history and public affairs at Princeton University, said it was a concern.
"The point is that every time there is a story about the President at a Trump property or about a Trump property - that is free advertising for the business," Prof Zelizer said.
"Selling hotel rooms for the G-7 is one goal, but more important is the endless cycle of stories about the resort that have aired since the scandal broke."