Rule of Law

Trump Loses Bid For Immediate Appeal In Emoluments Case

A D.C. federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request from President Donald Trump to immediately challenge two court orders in a suit brought by congressional Democrats, which accuses the president of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by continuing to profit from his private businesses.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said Trump hadn’t shown that the interlocutory appeals he sought would “materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation,” since it is on track to wrap up soon anyway.

“This case will be poised for resolution within six months,” the judge said. “An immediate appeal would hardly materially advance its ultimate termination.”

Trump had sought to appeal a September ruling that said the more than 200 lawmakers who’ve signed on to the suit have standing to challenge the president, and that their allegations amount to more than “a political dispute between the elected branches of government.”

The lawmakers are arguing that their votes have been nullified by Trump’s continued business ties with foreign entities because the former reality television star hasn’t sought Congress’ permission to receive the income from those business activities.

But Trump countered that the dispute doesn’t belong in court. He said Democratic lawmakers should instead convince their Republican colleagues to help pass a law to stop his alleged practice of accepting foreign gifts.

Trump was also looking to appeal an April ruling that congressional Democrats have a right to seek to enjoin him from allegedly violating the emoluments clause. The president had claimed complying with such an injunction would be an unconstitutional burden, but Judge Sullivan rejected that argument.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., one of the leading forces behind the suit, said in a statement Tuesday that the judge’s most recent order is “thoughtful” and “well-reasoned.”

“Judge Sullivan articulated what the law makes clear: there is absolutely no reason to delay one more day in ensuring that President Trump is held accountable for his violation of the Constitution’s preeminent anti-corruption provision,” the senator said.

Representatives for the president did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

Questions about transparency and potential conflicts of interest with Trump’s privately owned business first arose during the presidential campaign when Trump refused to publicly release his tax returns, breaking with decades of tradition by presidential contenders and his own campaign-trail promises.

Those questions intensified when Trump refused to fully divest from his business when he took office in January 2017. Concerns among the president’s congressional opponents culminated in the suit, which was filed in June 2018 by 30 members of the Senate and 166 members of the House of Representatives, led by Blumenthal and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

The lawmakers are represented by Brianne J. Gorod, Elizabeth B. Wydra and Brian R. Frazelle of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

Trump is represented by Jean Lin, James R. Powers and Bradley P. Humphreys of the U.S. Department of Justice‘s Civil Division.

The case is Blumenthal et al. v. Trump, case number 1:17-cv-01154, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.