A federal judge denied Tuesday President Donald Trump’s request that a lawsuit by congressional Democrats against him, saying he violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, be dismissed.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said the Democratic senators and members of Congress behind the lawsuit had reason to seek an injunction, stressing that their request was constitutional. The judge found that by claiming “emolument” should only apply to profits he earns directly through his own work, Trump disregarded the meaning of the term as given in the Constitution.
The more than 200 Democrats say in the lawsuit that every time the President profits from a foreign government without the approval of Congress, he is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, The Hill writes. They cite as evidence Trump’s refusal to completely divest from his various businesses around the world.
The President’s legal team has opposed such claims, saying that the clause only applies if Trump takes an action as president that results in him directly profiting or receiving a gift from a foreign government and to the commercial transactions with foreign governments.
“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,” Judge Sullivan 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.”
Trump is facing a similar Emolument Clause lawsuit from the District of Columbia and Maryland. He was harshly criticized when he took office and refused to give up holdings in his various businesses, instead handing over his businesses to his two adult sons. Experts at the time said he should fully divest from his businesses while in office.
Trump defended his move, saying that while he is president he has no influence over the operations of his private businesses.