Justice Department Seeks to Halt Democrats’ Lawsuit Against Trump
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department sought Monday to stop what it says would be “intrusive discovery” into President Donald Trump’s personal financial affairs, in a lawsuit brought by more than 200 Democratic members of Congress that raises separation-of-powers questions.
The government’s lawyers asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., to throw out or freeze the lawsuit led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., which alleges that Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
A federal district court judge in April allowed the lawmakers to pursue the case, which seeks to delve into Trump’s vast business interests and determine whether he must get congressional approval before accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments.
Judge Emmet Sullivan also declined Trump’s motion to dismiss the case, and refused a DOJ request to allow the government to appeal that decision. And Sullivan announced he would set an expeditious schedule for discovery, which gives each side a chance to obtain evidence from the other side.
The Trump administration, in a rare type of petition Monday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, wrote that “litigating the claims would entail intrusive discovery into the President’s personal financial affairs on account of his federal office,” and that “the district court treated this case as a run-of-the-mill commercial dispute.”
“In so ruling, the court ignored the unique separation-of-powers concerns posed by discovery in a case against the President in his official capacity,” the Justice Department wrote.
Lawmakers already sent 37 subpoenas in the case to third parties that require a response by July 29, the government said, and they have acknowledged that discovery may be directed at Trump.
The discovery “that the Members envision seeks to end-run the process of seeking information if there is a legitimate legislative interest, through congressional subpoena,” the government wrote.
The Justice Department added that the lawsuit “rests on a host of novel and flawed constitutional premises,” including whether legislators have the legal right to file such a lawsuit and the definition of what the term “emolument” means.
“The President has no other adequate means of obtaining relief,” the Trump administration wrote in the petition, noting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has stopped proceedings in a similar Emoluments Clause lawsuit.
The House passed a Democrat-backed bill with provisions on the Emoluments Clause, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced a bill with similar language.
©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved
Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is mired in 2016. Three separate Justice Department investigations are examining controversies left over from the last presidential race — the origins of the Russia probe, Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, and court-approved surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser.... Read More
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lawyers in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are taking a keen interest in a Missouri class action lawsuit that alleges a conspiracy among national real estate brokers to charge inflated fees, noting in a filing this week that it is investigating the... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Drug Enforcement Agency allowed drug manufacturers to increase production of opioids, despite the fact that overdose deaths were becoming a national health crisis, a government watchdog said in a report released Tuesday. The Justice Department's inspector general review of the agency's regulatory activities... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Trump vigorously defended Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday following a new allegation of sexual misconduct during the Supreme Court justice’s college years, as some leading Democratic presidential contenders raised fresh suspicions that Kavanaugh was untruthful during last year’s Senate hearings leading to his confirmation... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has declined to prosecute former FBI Director James B. Comey over his handling of confidential memos he wrote documenting his interactions with President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter. Prosecutors were acting on a referral from the... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced Thursday that it will resume capital punishment for the first time in nearly two decades. In a written statement, the Department said Attorney General William Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to adopt an amended protocol clearing the way... Read More