A federal judge on Wednesday, Aug. 21 allowed President Donald Trump to appeal key preliminary rulings in a lawsuit accusing him of violating the Emoluments Clause, which bans the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional consent.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of approximately 201 Democratic lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and members of the House of Representatives and Senate who alleged President Trump was illegally profiting from his private businesses’ operations in foreign countries.
The plaintiffs agued that the discovery is “necessary to identify the specific companies in which President Trump holds a verified ownership interest that are receiving each of the aforementioned categories of financial benefits from foreign governments.”
District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, a Bill Clinton appointee, previously declined such an appeal by refusing a motion to allow the appeals court to review his prior rulings, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit urged him to reconsider the case.
In his ruling on Wednesday, Sullivan allowed President Trump to appeal given the “substantial ground of difference of opinion” on whether the Democrats have legal standing to bring the case.
“The Court is persuaded that the plaintiffs’ proposals to forgo discovery and/or engage in expedited summary judgment briefing would be inconsistent with the remand order from the D.C. Circuit,” Sullivan wrote.
Sullivan’s order will keep on hold the discovery process, which Democratic lawmakers intended to serve subpoenas on the president’s businesses.
In early July, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a similar emoluments clause lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia.
This month, at a Shell petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania, President Trump said, “I got sued on a thing called emoluments. Emoluments. You ever hear of the word? Nobody ever heard of it before,” according to the Hill.
“And what it is, is presidential harassment, because this thing is costing me a fortune, and I love it. I love it because I’m making the lives of other people much, much better,” he added.