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Court: Congress Can Sue Trump Over Foreign Payments

A federal court Friday refused to immediately dismiss a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of violating a constitutional anti-corruption provision by accepting foreign payments through his hotels and businesses without the permission of the U.S. Congress.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington said in a 58-page ruling that lawmakers who brought the suit had legal standing to sue the president for allegedly flouting the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” clause, which prevents federal officeholders from accepting presents and other benefits from foreign governments without the “consent” of Congress.

The lawsuit, filed in June 2017, is the third constitutional challenge to Trump’s business interests while in office, but it is notable because the plaintiffs are themselves members of Congress.

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland, has allowed a similar lawsuit to move forward, but in December 2017 a judge in Manhattan threw out yet another case, which is now on appeal.

The members of Congress involved in the suit are all Democrats but also include Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. They are represented by the Constitutional Accountability Center, a Washington-based liberal legal organization.

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