A federal judge in Maryland on Friday ordered evidence-gathering to begin in a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by maintaining a financial interest in his company’s Washington hotel.
The plaintiffs are seeking records that could illuminate potential conflicts of interest between Mr. Trump and foreign leaders or state officials who patronize Trump International Hotel, blocks from the White House.
The judge, Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., said the Justice Department had failed to show a compelling reason to hold up the case while its lawyers appeal his earlier rulings. He ordered the parties to come up with a timeline within 20 days to produce evidence.
The lawsuit, filed by the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, seeks for the first time to define the meaning of constitutional language that restricts the president from accepting financial benefits, so-called emoluments.
So far, Judge Messitte has ruled against Mr. Trump at every step. But the case is still in its early stages, and the Justice Department signaled on Friday that it would seek emergency relief from a higher court rather than comply with his latest order. [Continue reading…]