Democrats who want to claim that President Donald Trump has wrongly accepted gifts have received a judge’s blessing to take their best shot.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Friday ruled that the roughly 200 Democrats who want to sue Trump have legal standing to bring the case.
Sullivan’s ruling does not necessarily mean the judge supports their argument that Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause, only that a lawsuit on the issue can proceed, Fox News reported.
“The Clause requires the President to ask Congress before accepting a prohibited foreign emolument,” Sullivan wrote.
The core of the argument against Trump is that the president, who was a billionaire real estate developer before becoming president, still gets income from properties that he owns.
The Foreign Emoluments Clause reads that Congress must consent for a president to receive gifts or income from other nations.
Congressional Democrats have said they should be informed of any payments that flow to Trump. The president believes otherwise and has acted accordingly.
Sullivan said that if the Democrats are telling the truth, “the President is accepting prohibited foreign emoluments without asking and without receiving a favorable reply from Congress.”
One of the major claims Democrats have advanced is that when foreign delegations stay at the Trump International hotel in Washington, he is being wrongly enriched by a foreign government.
Trump foe Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and one of the lead plaintiffs, was jubilant that the courts would hear the case.
“This is a bombshell victory enabling us to move forward to hold the president accountable for violating the chief corruption prohibition in the United States’ Constitution,” Blumenthal said, according to Fox News. “President Trump has been violating it repeatedly with impunity and now we as members need to hold him accountable.”
The other lead plaintiff, Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, was similarly elated over the ruling.
“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,” Nadler said, according to The New York Times.
The Justice Department was terse in its response.
“As we argued, we believe this case should be dismissed, and we will continue to defend the president in court,” the department said in a statement.
This is not the only case testing whether the emoluments clause applies to Trump. The attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., have a case that is being fought out in court in which they focus upon revenue Trump receives through the Washington hotel, Reuters has reported.
Trump, upon becoming president, transferred management and operations of his business empire to his sons, but did not give up ownership.
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