A judge has ruled for a second time that President Donald Trump must face a lawsuit accusing him of improperly profiting from his posh downtown Washington hotel.
U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte’s ruling Wednesday denied the president’s dismissal request and pushes forward a lawsuit by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia. They claim that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause by taking payments from foreign governments at his Washington hotel, as well as the domestic clause that bars payments from federal or state governments.
In a 52-page ruling, Messitte said “a number of foreign governments” have “patronized or have expressed a definite intention to patronize the hotel, some of which have indicated that they are doing so precisely because of the president’s association with it.” Maine Governor Paul LePage “and his entourage” aslo stayed there, the judge said.
Those stays by foreign and domestic leaders amount to illegal emoluments within the meaning of the Constitution, attorneys general Karl Racine of D.C. and Brian Frosh of Maryland say. Justice Department lawyers disagree, saying the emoluments provisions cover only payments made in connection with employment-type relationships.
The judge has asked both sides for suggestions on when Trump must file his response to the suit and when the parties will begin to engage in the pretrial exchange of information.
“We continue to maintain that this case should be dismissed,” Justice Department spokesman Andy Reuss said in a statement.
Trump faces a separate emoluments case in Washington, filed by about 200 Congressional Democrats. The administration argued for dismissal of that case last month. A federal judge in New York previously dismissed a third emoluments case.
The cases are The District of Columbia v. Trump, 17-cv-1596, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Greenbelt) and Blumenthal v. Trump, 17-cv-1154, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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