A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Maryland and Washington, D.C. have standing to sue President Donald Trump, allowing their lawsuit claiming that the President violated the Constitution’s Emoluments clause to move forward for now.
Maryland and D.C. have cleared one hurdle in their lawsuit against the President, but the judge has yet to issue a ruling on the meaning of the Emoluments clause, another factor that will determine whether the case can proceed. The judge, who is based in Maryland, will issue an opinion on the rest of Trump’s motion to dismiss the case at a later date.
The judge also ruled that Maryland and D.C. only have standing to sue over activities at the Trump International Hotel and the Trump Organization’s operations in Washington, D.C., not the Trump Organization’s operations outside the District.
The attorneys general in Maryland and D.C. argue in their lawsuit that Trump violated the Emolument’s clause by failing to sever financial ties with his hotel in Washington, D.C. The Emolument’s clause bars the President from accepting payments from a foreign government. It’s one of three lawsuits related to the Emoluments clause filed against the President, one of which was thrown out last year.
Foreign officials have patronized Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., and Maryland and D.C. argued in their lawsuit that the hotel’s connection to Trump drew people to that venue, as opposed to other event spaces in the area. In a January hearing on the lawsuit, a lawyer for the Trump hotel argued that the complaint was merely a “political” attempt to learn more about the President’s business. As for the debate over the meaning of the Emoluments clause, Trump’s legal team has argued that it does not apply to business transactions.
Asked about the ruling in the daily press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she “can’t comment on ongoing litigation.”