ethics

More than 190 Democrats in Congress joined together to sue President Trump on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

They say Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by profiting from business deals involving foreign governments — and doing so without congressional consent. And they want the court to make it stop.

Trump has "repeatedly and flagrantly violated" the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters on a conference call.

The Trump administration agreed late Friday to disclose records regarding former lobbyists it has hired, and the ethics rules it has waived for them. The move defuses a brewing conflict between the White House and one of Washington's smallest agencies, the tiny, 71-worker Office of Government Ethics.

At a Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, accused Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of failing to answer his questions about President Trump's business ties to people who might be violating money laundering and other U.S. laws.

Mnuchin responded by suggesting Brown "just send me a note on what you are looking for."

Brown pointed out that he had already sent a two-page letter.

Shortly after the November election, President Trump's initial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski launched a new career — co-founding a lobbying firm called Avenue Strategies.

But he did not register as a lobbyist.

That caused critics to demand investigations into his lack of registration, and now, Lewandowski is quitting.

On Inauguration Day, Donald Trump placed his hand on a Bible and promised to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. At the time, many ethics experts waited to see if Trump would divest himself of his multi-billion dollar business interests.

"And he didn't do it," says Zephyr Teachout, an associate law professor at Fordham University. "So immediately upon becoming president we filed a lawsuit to get him to stop violating the Constitution."

A liberal watchdog group says Jared Kushner, who is both President Trump's son-in-law and an adviser with far-reaching duties, should recuse himself from working on a sweeping array of tax, financial and foreign policy issues.

Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub Jr. is calling on the chairman of House Oversight Committee to become more engaged in overseeing ethics questions in the Trump administration.

In an interview with NPR on Monday, Shaub said public inquiries and complaints involving Trump administration conflicts of interest and ethics have been inundating his tiny agency, which has only advisory power.

A former Wells Fargo manager who was fired after reporting suspicions of fraudulent behavior must be paid some $5.4 million and rehired into a similar position, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says, announcing its largest-ever individual whistleblower award.

Wells Fargo says it will appeal the OSHA order.

The White House says President Trump has a new special assistant on his staff — his daughter Ivanka. The announcement comes a week after the president's oldest daughter moved into her own office in the West Wing to work on women's issues.

Her shift from an informal adviser at the White House to an unpaid government employee is small but important. She was already applying for security clearance, had access to classified information and was meeting with world leaders.

The Constitution and the Supreme Court both say a president is largely immune from civil lawsuits. The chief executive does critical work leading the nation, the logic goes, and shouldn't be bedeviled by ordinary civil lawsuits.

That's the argument that President Bill Clinton used almost exactly 20 years ago, when he tried but failed to stop the sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones. Now it's being made by lawyers for President Trump, against a sexual harassment suit brought by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's TV show The Apprentice.

President Trump continues to own hundreds of businesses around the world, and he has staffed his administration with wealthy people who have ties to a complex web of companies. Those financial entanglements have prompted government ethics experts to raise concerns about conflicts of interest.

What's it like to sue President Trump? For Jeffrey Lovitky, with a one-lawyer firm in Washington, D.C., it's not a great feeling.

"It is intimidating. I am intimidated," he said in an interview with NPR. "I mean, I would rather not be doing this."

But he has done it, and when he couldn't enlist anyone else to be the plaintiff, he took on that role, too.

"I think people are afraid to put their name out there on a lawsuit against the president," he said. "There is a sense that Donald Trump can be very difficult on people who oppose him."

President Trump got good news on Thursday from the federal agency that oversees the three-year-old lease on his five-star hotel in Washington, D.C.

The General Services Administration said in a letter that the Trump Organization is in "full compliance" with the lease on the luxury hotel that's located just blocks from the White House.

Federal records indicate that a key adviser to President Trump held substantial investments in 18 companies when he joined Trump in meetings with their CEOs.

The investments of Christopher Liddell, the president's director of strategic initiatives, totaled between $3 million and $4 million. Among the companies in Liddell's portfolio, and whose CEOs were in the meetings: Dell Technologies, Dow Chemical, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

With Congress showing no signs of taking action, a group of ethics watchdogs is turning to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to look into whether President Trump's many business interests violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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