Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Dismiss Emoluments Lawsuit

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  1. Frank Underwood

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    WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats cleared a key hurdle on Friday in their effort to sue President Trump over whether he is illegally profiting from business dealings with foreign governments, in a case that could give the lawmakers access to the Trump Organization’s finances.

    Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court in Washington ruled that the lawmakers have standing to sue Mr. Trump for accepting payments and other benefits from foreign governments without obtaining permission from Congress, which would violate the Constitution’s clause that bars federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

    Judge Sullivan dismissed the Justice Department’s claim that the legislators did not have standing to sue and denied its request to dismiss the lawsuit.

    “The court finds that the plaintiffs have standing to sue the president for allegedly violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause,” Judge Sullivan wrote in his opinion. Mr. Trump “has neither asked for their consent nor provided them with any information about the prohibited foreign emoluments he has already allegedly accepted.”

    The case brought by the Democrats is broader than a second lawsuit that accuses Mr. Trump of illegally benefiting from foreign powers and has the potential to reach deeper into the Trump Organization’s finances.

    Judge Sullivan said that he would decide later whether Mr. Trump violated the Constitution’s clause.

    “As we argued, we believe this case should be dismissed, and we will continue to defend the President in court,” said a Justice Department spokeswoman, Kelly Laco.

    The ruling was a step toward empowering Congress “to hold the president accountable,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who originally filed the lawsuit along with Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. Nearly 200 Democrats joined them.

    Mr. Blumenthal said that the president has violated the clause by collecting trademarks from China, rent paid by foreign governments at his real estate properties worldwide and government approvals for his business dealings. He also suggested that Mr. Trump’s businesses may have collected payments and benefits that are unknown to Congress.

    If Judge Sullivan finds that Mr. Trump has violated the emoluments clause, congressional Democrats can ask for information in the discovery phase of the lawsuit about any foreign benefit related to his global business dealings, including payments, trademarks, intellectual property and regulatory advantages.

    “We can look at his books and tax returns in order to determine what emoluments he’s accepted,” Mr. Nadler said. If evidence of financial fraud is found in the course of discovery, Mr. Nadler said that information would be made public and turned over to law enforcement officials.

    “This gives Congress an opportunity to invoke our congressional right to make sure that the president is loyal to the U.S. and not to his own pocketbook,” Mr. Nadler said.

    Judge Sullivan also said that the courts had to step in because Mr. Trump would not voluntarily allow Congress to exercise its constitutional right to oversee the payments he takes from foreign governments.

    In the other emoluments lawsuit, a federal judge in Maryland has ruled that the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia can sue the president.

    In the first judicial opinion to define how the Constitution’s anticorruption clauses should apply to a president, Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., said that the Constitution’s language should be broadly construed. The Trump administration has said it will appeal the ruling.

    Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/28/us/politics/trump-emoluments-democrats-lawsuit.html

     

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