(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump lost a bid to halt a lawsuit brought by 201 Congressional Democrats who want a Washington federal court to require that the president seek approval from lawmakers before he accepts any financial benefits from foreign governments.
In a pair of orders issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan denied Trump’s request to pause the lawsuit so he could immediately appeal Sullivan’s earlier refusals to dismiss the case. The decision means the 2017 lawsuit led by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut can proceed.
In a separate order, the judge said lawmakers can begin collecting evidence to support their claims on June 28, but must wrap up that process by Sept. 27.
The legislators assert Trump’s receipt of benefits through his far-flung business holdings -- including his luxury hotel just blocks from the White House -- violates a U.S. constitutional provision barring American presidents from accepting so-called emoluments from foreign governments without the prior permission of Congress. The Democrats previously told the court they want to look at the president’s finances and revenue sources.
The president’s lawyers say money flows into his businesses legally. The judge has not yet made a final determination on that issue.
“This case should have been dismissed,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco said in an emailed statement. “It presents important questions that warrant immediate appellate review and is another impractical attempt to disrupt and distract the president from his official duties. The Department of Justice will appeal the court’s decision.”
Noting the lawmakers told him they can quickly gather evidence and that both sides say final briefs can be submitted within six months, Sullivan ruled that Trump’s lawyers hadn’t met their burden of showing a mid-case appeal would significantly speed up resolution of the case.
The case is Blumenthal v. Trump, 17-cv-1154, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
(Updates with DOJ comment)
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