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Judge allows Dems’ lawsuit against Trump over foreign payments to his businesses to proceed

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WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington, DC, ruled Friday that a lawsuit brought by more than 200 Democrats in Congress against President Donald Trump over foreign payments to his business can proceed.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and the other members allege in the lawsuit that the President is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution by not seeking their approval for his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments.

Ruling on the President’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, District Judge Emmet Sullivan held that the Democrats have standing to proceed on their complaint, holding that they properly alleged they suffered an injury for not being able to vote on the President’s perceived receipt of payments from foreign governments.

The media and protesters start to gather in front of the Trump Tower in Vancouver before the inauguration ceremeony for the Trump International Hotel and Tower on February 28, 2017. / AFP / Stephanie Lamy (Photo credit should read STEPHANIE LAMY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Democratic members of Congress’ “well-pleaded complaint alleges that the President has accepted prohibited foreign emoluments without first seeking the consent of Congress,” Judge Sullivan wrote. “The alleged injury is therefore directly traceable to the President’s alleged failure to seek Congressional consent.”

In joint statement with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee, Senator Blumenthal said:

“Today’s ruling is a triumph for the rule of law, affirming that Congress can hold President Trump accountable for violations of the U.S. Constitution. Members of Congress have a right and a responsibility to prevent the president from corrupting his office…. Thanks to this thoughtful and well-reasoned decision by Judge Sullivan, we are moving forward in our effort to protect the American people from foreign corruption and ensure that President Trump is minding the people’s business, not his own. We now prepare to make our case to Judge Sullivan on the merits: No President is above the law.”

Attorneys for the Trump Organization did not return an immediate request for comment from CNN on Friday night. CNN’s request for comment to the Justice Department, which is representing Trump, was not immediately returned.

The President moved to dismiss the lawsuit on substantive grounds related to the emoluments clause itself, which the court deferred ruling on.

This is the second time a federal judge has allowed a lawsuit against Trump regarding his ties to his businesses, and the money he earns from them, to move forward to more probing litigation stages. In July, Maryland District Judge Peter J Messitte ruled that a lawsuit filed by Washington, DC, and Maryland against Trump over alleged emoluments violations could proceed.

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