Donald J. Trump, Defendant” has graced reams of court papers through decades of dealmaking and New York real estate litigiousness.
“Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America” remains a relatively new phenomenon.
But inside a federal courtroom on Wednesday in Lower Manhattan, with the full force of the Justice Department defending him, Mr. Trump will be the focus, in absentia, of a remarkable legal drama: Is a sitting president — disinclined to relinquish his gilded empire before taking office — violating the Constitution by continuing to own and profit from his businesses?
At issue is a lawsuit filed this year in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by a legal watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. It has argued that Mr. Trump is violating a constitutional provision that a president may not accept any economic benefit from foreign governments or the United States government beyond a salary.