Democrats get judge's OK to argue Trump violated Constitution over 'gifts' from foreign governments

A group of nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers has legal standing to sue President Trump over claims he violated the U.S. Constitution's emoluments provision banning the acceptance of gifts from foreign and domestic interests, a federal district judge in Washington ruled Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan’s ruling doesn’t find Trump guilty of violating the Constitution, but allows Democrats to continue their case in the courtroom where they would have to make the case that he did.

The case against Trump is being led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut the nearly 200 Democrats in Congress who claim the president is continuing to gain income from his hotel business and other properties, in violation of the Constitution.

They argue that Trump has received foreign government favors like Chinese government trademarks for his companies and room rentals at the Trump International hotel in Washington, which only further enrich Trump.

“This is a bombshell victory enabling us to move forward to hold the president accountable for violating the chief corruption prohibition in the United States' Constitution,” Blumenthal said after the ruling. “President Trump has been violating it repeatedly with impunity and now we as members need to hold him accountable.”

"This is a bombshell victory enabling us to move forward to hold the president accountable for violating the chief corruption prohibition in the United States' Constitution."

— U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Trump’s lawyers said the Democrats can’t bring a case forward because they weren’t personally injured by the president, but rather by their colleagues in Congress. The lawmakers argued that since the White House didn’t ask for Congress’ permission to accept gifts from foreign and domestic interests, they suffered an injury.

While the Friday’s ruling didn’t look into the motion by the Department of Justice to dismiss the case, this is the second time a federal court judge has decided to advance such unprecedented constitutional lawsuits against the president. In July, a federal judge in Maryland said a similar lawsuit against the president can proceed, but only in relation to Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.