Emoluments Clause: How NY Attorney General Schneiderman Could Take Down Trump

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has a history of taking on Donald Trump, and now Schneiderman could play a role in an eventual impeachment of President Trump pertaining to the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In 2014, Schneiderman sued Trump University over charges that Trump University defrauded students. According to Think Progress, Trump started out by disputing the charges and personally attacking Schneiderman on Twitter before eventually settling with Schneiderman in December 2016 for $4 million as part of a lump $25 million settlement handed out in a number of lawsuits surrounding Trump University.


According to the Washington Post, the Emoluments Clause appears in Article I of the Constitution, and it deals with government officials receiving gifts, favors, money, or other benefits from foreign countries or foreign leaders.

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State,” the Emoluments Clause states.

eric schneiderman emoluments clause
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is hoping to use the Emoluments Clause to take down Trump. [Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has now hired Howard Master; one of the top deputies of recently fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. It is unknown why Donald Trump fired Bharara. According to Think Progress, there are rumors that Bharara was investigating a member of Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Master’s main task under Eric Schneiderman will be to focus on challenging Trump administration executive orders, such as immigration bans, but he will also to investigate possible illegal activities by Donald Trump and his business entities. The Trump Organization is headquartered in New York, which puts the office of the New York Attorney General in a good position to investigate and, if misdeeds are found, to launch lawsuits or even prosecution.

Howard Master could launch what is called a Quo Warranto proceeding to investigate the Trump Organization. The proceedings could result in the Trump Organization being barred from engaging in certain activities or could even dissolve the corporation entirely. Should illegal activities be found during such an investigation, it would almost certainly be grounds for impeachment hearings under the Emoluments Clause.

According to New York Daily News, Eric Schneiderman has been a fierce critic of Donald Trump who has repeatedly stated he will sue the Trump administration in order to protect the interests of New York and its citizens. Schneiderman has already filed one such lawsuit in response to Donald Trump’s recent immigration ban.


Eric Schneiderman definitely seems like he’d enjoy playing a key role in taking down Donald Trump. Trump Tower currently rents space to a state-owned Chinese bank. One lawsuit has already been filed in federal court citing that as a specific violation of the Emoluments Clause, according to the Washington Post. With properties all over the world, the Trump Organization could be involved in numerous violations. However, it is currently unclear to what extent such business dealings would violate the Constitution. This is why, many argue, a deeper investigation is needed.

“A federal officeholder who receives something of value from a foreign power can be imperceptibly induced to compromise what the Constitution insists be his or her exclusive loyalty: the best interest of the United States of America,” the group suing Trump wrote in its legal filing.

If New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his assistants are successful in proving Donald Trump is guilty of violating the Emoluments Cause, it will likely have devastating consequences for the Trump administration. Democrats are clearly gunning to impeach the President, and many Republicans would probably be content to have Mike Pence become President rather than put themselves on the line for Trump. Things could get very interesting in the coming months.

[Featured Image by Pool/Getty Images]