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Howard Dean: Trump is running a 'criminal enterprise out of the White House'

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE is "running a criminal enterprise" out of the White House.

During a segment an MSNBC host said Trump is "constantly vacationing to promote his own properties."

"The promotion is extraordinary. There hasn't been a president in my lifetime that's done anything like this," Dean said in response.

"In the beginning, the constitutional business about the emoluments clause, which is you're not supposed to take foreign money to influence your policy, it didn't bother me, I thought it was a far-flung argument — I'm not an attorney."

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But Dean said it is clear that Trump or his staff are "shaking down foreign governments who have moved their events to his hotel in Washington at somebody's request in order to get favors."

"I think he's running a criminal enterprise out of the White House and I think that's what Bob Mueller's on the track of," Dean said.

The emoluments clause prohibits federal officials from taking payments from foreign governments. Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from a liberal watchdog organization arguing Trump had violated the clause.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit earlier this year claiming that because Trump has not fully divested from his businesses, he is receiving “cash and favors from foreign governments, through guests and events at his hotels, leases in his buildings, and valuable real estate deals abroad.” 

Trump's frequent visits to his own properties have also been viewed harshly by critics and ethics experts, who say it gives his organization free publicity, although the president himself no longer manages the company.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia and has called the probe a "witch hunt."