0406 GMT September 23, 2019
At least 30 senators and 166 representatives filed the complaint on Wednesday, saying Trump accepted the funds through his businesses without congressional consent, which is a violation of the US Constitution.
Trump has "repeatedly and flagrantly violated" the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (D-Conn.) told reporters on a conference call.
According to the clause, a president cannot accept benefits "of any kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State," unless he has "the Consent of the Congress."
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the House Judiciary Committee’s top-ranking Democrat, said that the lawsuit will have the largest number of congressional plaintiffs of any lawsuit lodged against the president so far in US history.
“We do this not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship, but because President Trump has left us with no other option,” he said.
The White House has not yet responded to requests for comment, but did say that Trump's business interests do not violate the US Constitution.
The Trump Organization has said profits from customers representing foreign governments will be donated to the US Treasury Department, but added it will not require such customers to identify themselves.
"The president’s failure to tell us about these emoluments, to disclose the payments and benefits that he is receiving, mean that we cannot do our job. We cannot consent to what we don’t know," said Sen. Blumentha.
In recent months, similar lawsuits have been filed by parties including a nonprofit ethics group, a restaurant trade group, and the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, against Trump.
They say Trump's acceptance of payments from foreign governments through his hospitality empire is an unfair disadvantage for other hotel and restaurant owners and it provides governments an incentive to give preferential treatment to Trump-owned businesses.