Federal judge rejects Trump request to dismiss Democrats' Emoluments Clause lawsuit

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE’s request to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the more than 200 Democratic senators and members of Congress behind the lawsuit had reason to seek an injunction in the case and that their request is constitutional.

In his ruling, Sullivan found that Trump had disregarded “the ordinary meaning” of the term “emolument” as intended in the Constitution by claiming that it should apply only to profits he earns directly through his own work.

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Democrats allege that Trump violates the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause whenever he profits from foreign governments without Congress’s approval.

ADVERTISEMENT

The lawmakers point to Trump’s vast range of businesses around the world and his declining to fully give up those holdings as evidence that he has violated the clause.

Trump’s attorneys argue that the clause does not apply to the commercial transactions with foreign governments and goes into effect only if Trump directly profits or receives a gift from a foreign government in exchange for an action that he has taken as president.

Sullivan, an appointee of former President Clinton, also rejected the president’s claim that the lawmakers cannot sue him on an individual basis because their duties are only “marginally related” to the Emoluments Clause.

“The only way the Clause can achieve its purpose is for the President to seek and obtain the consent of Congress before he accepts foreign Emoluments,” the judge wrote, noting that the lawmakers are alleging ”that they have been deprived of the right to vote to consent to the President’s receipt of foreign Emoluments before he accepts them.”

“Plaintiffs’ injury is therefore hardly 'marginally related' to the purpose of the Clause, but is directly related to the only way the Clause can achieve its purpose,” Sullivan’s ruling reads.

The president is facing a similar lawsuit from the District of Columbia and Maryland over the alleged Emoluments Clause violations.

And the ruling comes as Trump has recently turned to the courts in an attempt to spurn Democratic investigations into him, his family and his private businesses.

Democrats widely criticized Trump for his decision to hand over his businesses to his two adult sons to maintain in a blind trust while he serves as president, pointing to ethics experts who recommended the president fully divest from his businesses while he is in office.

Trump has defended the action, saying that he has no say as to his private businesses while he is president.

House Democrats are now overseeing a range of probes into Trump as well his family and business interests.

The president’s attorneys recently filed a pair of lawsuits to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records as part of those investigations.

One complaint, filed earlier this month, seeks to quash a subpoena issued by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFederal agency to resume processing some deferred-action requests for migrants Overnight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Top Oversight Democrat demands immigration brass testify MORE (D-Md.) for financial records from the accounting firm Mazars.

And the second lawsuit arrived late Monday, asking a judge to stop Capital One and Deutsche Bank from handing over financial records to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Trump asked Ukraine president to investigate Biden's son eight times in one phone call: reports Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe MORE (D-Calif.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.).

While the legal battles are not directly related, the overlapping timelines mean that it’s highly likely Trump’s fights with Democrats in Congress will increasingly take place within the courts.

Updated 7:37 p.m.