The suit was brought by 200 House and Senate Democrats as part of an investigation into Trump’s alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause. The ruling will allow Democrats to start collecting documents related to Trump’s businesses as part of the suit.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan denied a request from the Justice Department to pause the case so it could be appealed to a higher court.
“This case should have been dismissed. It presents important questions that warrant immediate appellate review and is another impractical attempt to disrupt and distract the president from his official duties,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said in a statement.
Sullivan said he would make a ruling on the case in six months, and the Justice Department could appeal the decision then.
The Emoluments Clause is a line in the Constitution that forbids “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” to be accepted by the president. Congress is arguing in its case that Trump’s foreign business ties represent a violation of that clause.
The lawsuit says that Trump’s involvement in those businesses “deprives the American people of assurance that their highest elected official is pursuing their best interests with undivided loyalty.”
From the Journal:
The Trump Organization has said his D.C. hotel, the Trump International, is donating the profits from business from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury. In February, it sent a check for $191,538 to the Treasury, a sum that it said covered those profits in 2018.
Critics have said that the organization has provided no transparency on how it calculates the profits; in addition, they said, the policy applies only to the Trump International, not any of Mr. Trump’s other properties, including resorts and golf clubs.
Similar lawsuits are going forward in Maryland and Washington, DC.
The lawsuit is basically an elaborate method to get Trump to hand over documents related to his businesses to Congress, which he has repeatedly refused to do. In his decision, Sullivan said that Democrats can begin collecting evidence for the case on June 28.
Democrats celebrated the ruling.
“No one is above the law—not even the President. Once again, the courts have resoundingly reaffirmed our efforts to hold the President accountable for corruption, and ensure that the President acts in the public interest, not his own interest,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, according to CNN.
“In a thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion, Judge Sullivan articulated what the law makes clear: there is absolutely no reason to delay one more day... Today, the courts spoke: no longer,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Richard Blumenthal in a statement.
But this judge’s decision isn’t the end of the road for the Justice Department. It will apparently still try to take the case to a higher court by making an emergency plea, despite the ruling. According to the Journal, such pleas are rarely granted.