Court Battles

Court denies Trump’s request to appeal ruling allowing emoluments case to proceed

A federal judge in Maryland on Friday rejected President Trump’s latest request to put a lawsuit on hold that alleges he violated the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments while in office.

Judge Peter Messitte, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, denied the administration’s request to put discovery in the case on hold, paving the way for plaintiffs to seek information in the lawsuit.

He also refused to allow the administration to appeal his earlier orders that allowed the case to proceed. 

In March, Messitte ruled that the attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia had standing to sue the president for allegedly violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which bans the sitting president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign and domestic governments.

The plaintiffs argue that Trump has violated the clause by accepting payments from foreign governments either directly or indirectly through his namesake hotel in Washington, D.C.{mosads}

In July, the judge, who is an appointee of former President Clinton, further held that the plaintiffs had stated a claim under the Emoluments Clause.

He said the term “emolument” expansively covers any so-called non-de minimis profit, gain or advantage the president receives through the Trump International Hotel by virtue of government customers’ patronage of the hotel, according to court documents.

Trump lawyers argued in their request to throw out the lawsuit that “reasonable jurists could differ as to the proper interpretation of the Emoluments Clauses.”

Messitte in his opinion Friday said Trump had not done enough to justify putting the case before an appellate court for review. 

Experts say it was a rare move for Trump to ask for the court’s permission to appeal its preliminary rulings. 

David Super, a professor at Georgetown Law, said parties typically have to wait for a final judgment in a case before filling an appeal.

“In legal terms, it isn’t very significant because any issues the president would like to raise he’s free to raise on appeal when there is a final judgment in the case,” he said. 

But Super noted that the ruling allows the trial to proceed to the discovery phase in which the parties will be seeking information about what payments Trump received through his hotel and where they came from.

“If that information would be embarrassing to the president then in a political sense he has suffered a loss,” Super said.

In a statement Friday afternoon, DOJ spokeswoman Kelly Laco said the agency disagrees and is disappointed by the court’s ruling.

“This case, which should have been dismissed, presents important questions that warrant immediate appellate review,” she said.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine called the court’s decision another major win.

“Our next step is to proceed with discovery,” he said in a statement. “We will soon provide the court a new schedule to begin the process of getting information about how President Trump is profiting from the presidency.”

Updated: 5:13 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump

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