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Frosh, brushing off GOP critics, says anti-Trump suits protect Marylanders

GOP re-election foe calls litigation 'political'

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh in a 2016 interview. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh on Wednesday defended as apolitical efforts to protect Marylanders his office’s legal challenges to President Trump’s restrictions on immigration from majority-Muslim countries, the marketing of the president’s Washington hotel and his administration’s rollback of regulations designed to protect the environment.

“We stand up for important public policies,” Frosh said at a Greater Baltimore Committee breakfast. “We are going to fight for justice.”

Frosh said his challenges to Trump are part of a larger effort to protect Maryland residents’ public, personal and financial safety, whether from criminal violence, scammers or identity thieves. Frosh, a Democrat up for re-election this fall, cited his office’s cooperation with federal and state law enforcement agencies as well as divisions in the attorney general’s office dedicated to protecting Maryland consumers.

But it is Frosh’s attention to Trump’s actions – a main focus of the attorney general’s address to the GBC — that has drawn fire from his Republican challenger, Craig Wolf.

“The attorney general of Maryland should be focused on Maryland,” Wolf, a former federal prosecutor, said Wednesday. “These lawsuits are political lawsuits. They are not based on the law; they are based on political concerns.”

Frosh, however, said the litigation he has either joined or initiated with other Democratic attorneys general is intended to protect Marylanders and is legally sound.

The challenge to what Trump’s critics call his “Muslim ban” is aimed at preventing a “brain drain” from Maryland’s high-tech companies that have thrived due in large part to their foreign employees with valid immigrant visas, Frosh said.

Trump’s religion-based prohibition “violates our core constitutional principles … but it is also stupid,” Frosh added. “It hurts us. It hurts our business.”

The attorney general said that protecting Marylanders is also at the heart of his lawsuit alleging the president’s marketing of the Trump International Hotel to foreign dignitaries violates the Constitution’s prohibition on the chief executive receiving “emoluments,” or benefits, from abroad. The unconstitutional competition harms Maryland hotels, including the Montgomery County Convention Center, part of the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel, Frosh added.

Frosh, who is unopposed in next week’s Democratic primary, said his participation in litigation challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s relaxed enforcement of Clean Water Act regulations – including those aimed at curtailing off-shore oil drilling – is aimed at protecting Maryland’s most precious natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay.

EPA Administrator “Scott Pruitt has been a wrecking ball at EPA,” Frosh said. “We’re going to do everything we can to stop it.”

But Wolf said such challenges to federal policies belong to Maryland’s congressional delegation and not its attorney general, whom he said should concentrate on staunching the gun violence afflicting Baltimore, the scourge of opioid addiction, the rise of violent gangs such as MS-13 and human trafficking.

“He (Frosh) is focused completely on outside of the state,” said Wolf, who is unchallenged for the Republican nomination. “He is wasting time and money that can be better spent on the problems in Maryland.”

Frosh has pursued the litigation under authority given to him last year by Maryland’s Democratic-run General Assembly. Lawmakers passed a joint resolution allowing Frosh to sue President Trump without the approval of Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.

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