US President Donald Trump has dismissed allegations in a new lawsuit by prominent constitutional and ethics lawyers that he is violating the US Constitution by letting his hotels and other businesses accept payments from foreign governments.
Trump told reporters at the White House that the lawsuit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was "without merit."
The nonprofit contended that Trump is "submerged in conflicts of interest" from his ties to countries such as China, India and potentially Russia, potentially posing a "creeping, insidious threat" to the country.
Its lawsuit seeks to stop Trump from accepting any improper payments, saying a constitutional provision known as the "emoluments" clause bans them.
The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Manhattan.
It is part of a wave of expected litigation from liberal advocacy groups against Trump, a Republican who took office on Friday.
On January 11, Trump said he would retain ownership of his global business empire while president, but hand off day-to-day control to his oldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr.
Sheri Dillon, a Trump adviser, said at the time that profit generated at Trump's hotels from foreign governments would be donated to the US Treasury.
But the lawsuit said Trump's refusal to cede ownership or set up a blind trust has resulted in conflicts of interest that leave him "poised" to violate the Constitution repeatedly while in the White House.
Natalie Gewargis - a spokeswoman for Morgan Lewis & Bockius, a law firm representing Trump on ethics matters and where Dillon is a partner - said on Monday: "We do not comment on our clients or the work we do for them."
US District Judge Ronnie Abrams, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, will preside over the lawsuit.
The emoluments clause forbids Trump and other US officeholders from accepting various gifts from foreign governments without congressional approval.
According to the complaint, that makes payments by foreign governments for various services by Trump's companies illegal.
These allegedly include sums for the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's lease at Trump Tower in New York, stays at Trump's hotels, rounds at Trump's golf courses, and the rights to rebroadcast or create new versions of Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice."
China, India, Indonesia, Turkey and the United Kingdom are among the countries with which Trump's companies do or plan to do business, and Trump had been trying to do business with Russia for at least three decades, the complaint said.
Meanwhile, payments for a Washington hotel booking next month by the Embassy of Kuwait for its "National Day" celebration are expected to "go directly to defendant while he is president," the complaint added.