When he took the oath of office Friday, President Donald Trump carried with him a massive web of potential conflicts of interest not seen in modern American history.
The president's ethical quandary is the result of his refusal to divest himself of a sprawling network of more than 500 properties that he has amassed in more than three decades as a celebrity entrepreneur.
That conflict is at the center of a lawsuit, filed in federal court on Monday, by a group of lawyers who say Trump's business interests put him in violation of the Constitution by receiving payments from foreign governments.
In its filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the nonprofit watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, said that Trump's global business interests "are creating countless conflicts of interest, as well as unprecedented influence by foreign governments" and "have resulted and will further result in numerous violations" of the U.S. Constitution.
At a long-awaited news conference this month, Trump dismissed the potential conflicts after his attorney laid out the broad outlines of a plan to separate himself from the day-to-day operations of his businesses.
The plan includes the establishment of a trust to be run by his two sons and a Trump Organization executive. The company will also hire an ethics advisor to clear any new domestic deals, and Trump pledged to donate any hotel profits generated from foreign governments to avoid the appearance of gifts.
But the plan doesn't go nearly far enough to head off major ethical conflicts, Walter Shaub Jr., director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, said earlier this month.
The new structure, he said, is "meaningless."
"This is not a blind trust — it's not even close. ... His sons are still running the businesses, and, of course, he knows what he owns,"Shaub said upon hearing the details of Trump's plan. "His own attorney said today that he can't 'un- know' that he owns Trump Tower. The same is true of his other holdings."
The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment.
On Friday, Pro Publica reported that the documents required to transfer ownership of Trump's properties had not been filed.
The scope of potential conflicts is as deep and wide as the next president's business interests.