Last month, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte ruled in favor of moving forward with a lawsuit filed by the Attorneys General of Washington DC and Maryland.
The lawsuit questions whether or not Trump International Hotels are a breach of the constitution's emoluments clause.
Messitte's ruling hinged on the definition of "emoluments". The Department of Justice (DoJ) headed by Trump appointee Jeff Sessions tried to have the lawsuit dismissed.
The DoJ defined the term as compensation given to the president in exchange for favors or services from Trump.
However, Attorneys General Brian Frosh of Maryland and Karl Racine of DC argued that emoluments referred to any sort of profit, gain or advantage Trump received from his hotel.
In his ruling, Messitte wrote,
"[The president's] narrow interpretation of the word 'emolument' would reduce the clauses to little more than a prohibition of bribery which, in addition to already being addressed elsewhere in the Constitution, is, as plaintiffs argue, a very difficult crime to prove,".
DC Attorney General (AG) Karl Racine tweeted about their victory.
#BREAKING: Judge allows our #emoluments case to proceed. We are one step closer to stopping President Trump from… https://t.co/mlrKPtCLmn— AG Karl A. Racine (@AG Karl A. Racine) 1532535153.0
But on Friday, the DOJ moved again to halt the lawsuit. They asked a federal judge to allow them to file an appeal that would keep Trump's financial records under wraps until they can appeal Messitte's ruling to a higher court in Richmond, Virginia.
AG Racine tweeted that he and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh anticipated this move.
After winning two major rulings in the #emoluments case already, we anticipated President Trump’s most recent motio… https://t.co/qZNZDHEMK1— AG Karl A. Racine (@AG Karl A. Racine) 1534541790.0
@BrianFrosh @CREWcrew @NormEisen @deepakguptalaw Nonetheless, our #emoluments case is still moving forward. We ar… https://t.co/tD0ybwOY3v— AG Karl A. Racine (@AG Karl A. Racine) 1534541818.0
The DoJ also argued that putting the lawsuit on hold is in the public interest because
"any discovery would necessarily be a distraction to the President's performance of his constitutional duties"
Twitter found this argument laughable.
@thehill @TheJusticeDept is worried it will distract Trump? A laser pointer distracts Trump. What an absurd argumen… https://t.co/D16RMX6vuX— Colin Robinson’s future ex-wife (@Colin Robinson’s future ex-wife) 1534603741.0
Others find it preposterous that the Department of Justice is even involved in Trump's defense.
@thehill WHO - first of all public opinion is in favour of releasing the documents because the public thinks Trump… https://t.co/5f2o48xYMn— savourthis (@savourthis) 1534615968.0
@thehill Why is the DOJ serving as Trump's personal attornies and covering for his corruption?— LSawyer (@LSawyer) 1534615624.0
@Necrophidian It’s damned bizarre. When did the DOJ turn into Trump’s personal defense team. It’s scary.— Carmen Scaglione (@Carmen Scaglione) 1534604138.0
@thehill So basically the DOJ is doing Trump's dirty personal work for him?— Sarcastic Caveman (@Sarcastic Caveman) 1534610992.0
@thehill Soooo, the department of justice is representing trump's businesses?— Harvey Crudup (@Harvey Crudup) 1534612073.0
@thehill So, the @TheJusticeDept is now working for the Trump Organization. Is @realDonaldTrump so poor that he can… https://t.co/JtExI2sqMn— Max Enevoldsen (@Max Enevoldsen) 1534612712.0
While private citizens cannot decide what cases the DoJ takes or who they choose to defend, they can make their voice heard in the midterm elections.
Register to vote here.