A federal judge denied on Wednesday a motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of receiving improper payments from states and foreign governments — or emoluments — through his Washington hotel in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
According to court documents, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte ruled that the plaintiffs, the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, had legal standing to challenge Trump’s involvement with his eponymous company, but narrowed the scope of the suit to the Trump Organization’s business in the District of Columbia.
…The Constitution bars public officeholders from accepting payments or titles from foreign governments without approval from Congress, a clause designed to prevent officials from being corrupted.
If it withstands likely appeals, the suit could allow prosecutors — two Democratic attorneys general, Maryland’s Brian Frosh and D.C.’s Karl Racine — to seek documents from the Trump Organization on how much money is sent there by states and foreign governments, something that is not publicly known.
…If this suit progresses, it is sure to bring some history into the courtroom, since the plaintiffs are pointing to 230-year-old decision as part of their legal argument. According to the opinion released Wednesday, Maryland argued that the anti-corruption Emoluments Clauses in the Constitution were key “to its decision to enter the Union and that it retains the power to enforce those provisions today.”