Washington – A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request from President Donald Trump to delay a lawsuit filed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal and nearly 200 other congressional Democrats who allege the president’s business dealings violate an anti-corruption statute of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan declined to put the case on hold and said the Democratic plaintiffs could begin to seek financial information, interviews and other records from the Trump Organization this week.

Justice Department lawyers had asked Sullivan to take the unusual step of halting proceedings in the case to allow them to appeal the judge’s previous rulings to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The DOJ lawyers argued an interlocutory appeal was in order because of the “exceptional circumstances” of the case, known as Blumenthal v. Trump. They said the discovery process, which would gather information about Trump’s personal and business finances would “distract the president from his official duties.”

Justice Department lawyers also argued that if the higher court found that members of Congress did not have the authority to sue the president, the lawsuit could be dismissed.

Sullivan, a Clinton appointee, disagreed.

“This case will be poised for resolution within six months; an immediate appeal would hardly materially advance its ultimate termination,” Sullivan wrote in a 12-page ruling.

The case is based on the U.S. Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, which bars a president from taking payments from foreign states unless he or she receives approval from Congress.

The lawsuit accuses Trump of violating the clause because his businesses, including his hotel in downtown Washington D.C., have hosted foreign embassy events and visiting foreign officials.

The Justice Department had no immediate response to Sullivan’s ruling.

Blumenthal called Sullivan’s decision “a victory for the Constitution,” and a “historic triumph for legally mandated transparency.”

“In a thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion, Judge Sullivan articulated what the law makes clear — there is absolutely no reason to delay one more day in ensuring that President Trump is held accountable for his violation of the Constitution’s preeminent anti-corruption provision,” Blumenthal said.

The senator also said “for more than two years, President Trump has thumbed his nose at the American people in flagrant violation of the law. Today, the courts spoke: no longer.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also hailed Sullivan’s decision.

“No one is above the law – not even the president,” Pelosi said.”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.

Blumenthal, and the other lawmakers suing Trump, are represented in this case by the Constitutional Accountability Center.

“We’re gratified that Judge Sullivan has rejected President Trump’s effort to run out the clock on this important lawsuit,” said Constitutional Accountability Center Chief Counsel Brianne Gorod.

The lawsuit against Trump gives several examples of former presidents who obeyed the rules of the emoluments clause, including Martin Van Buren, who in 1840 was offered two horses, a case of rose oil, five bottles of rose water, a package of cashmere shawls, a Persian rug, a box of pearls, and a sword by the Imam of Muscat.

The suit said that that Van Buren, writing to the Imam, explained that “a fundamental law of the Republic which forbids its servants from accepting presents from foreign States or Princes, precludes me from receiving” the items and that Van Buren then told Congress about the gift.

Avatar photo

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

  1. The Mueller Russian Hoax perpetrated by Obama intelligence agency appointees failed so now this pathetic charade? What will the Stolen Valor Blumenthal think of next?

  2. Mr. Blumenthal is a Hypocrite. His wife, Cynthia Blumenthal and her children own partnership interests in 30 real estate ventures including the Empire State Building. Tricky Dickie also has a net worth of over $100 million (inherited) and many of those business interests have extensive business dealings with foreign countries. No doubt the Blumenthal’s own interests in Hotel’s themselves.

    The mere fact that a foreigner stays at an American Hotel owned by the president does not violate the foreign emoluments clause. Otherwise, half the people in Congress would have to resign.

    Serving as a Senator is a very lucrative job. Take our renowned ex Senator Chris Dodd. When he ran for Congress in CT’s 2nd District he listed his net worth around $50,000? When he left the Senate, he listed his net work as over $10 million. And the only thing he did was serve in the Congress. Chris was a bigger crook than his father (who was censured by the Senate for converting campaign funds to his personal accounts and then spent the money).

    Donald Trump owned a Hotel before he became President. That Hotel was in Washington. It hosted (like all hotels in Washington) many foreigners. To attack this circumstance means Senator Blumenthal is not doing his job. And that is to represent the people of Connecticut. We really do not care if some foreigner is eating shrimp at a reception hosted by someone at a Trump Hotel.

  3. If a Democrat president’s investments held a 51% share of stock in a hotel chain and a foreign leader opted to stay in one of the hotel chain’s properties, I’d bet that little would be said about it.

    It would not be a direct gift to the president, unlike the Van Buren example.

    However, since it is DJT then it must be illegal.

  4. Two emoluments cases got thrown out today, with prejudice. We shall see if Blumenthal and his comrades get sent to the showers, too.

Leave a comment