U.S. judge rejects Trump administration bid to halt emoluments lawsuit

FILE PHOTO: U.S. flags fly over the Trump International Hotel in Washington, U.S., August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday rejected the Trump administration’s bid to postpone a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump’s business dealings violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on receiving improper payments from foreign governments.

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland ruled against the administration’s request to bring an expedited appeal of rulings that allowed the case to proceed and to halt the discovery process, evidence-gathering that could force disclosure of Trump’s financial records.

The lawsuit, filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia, alleges that Trump, through his hotel in downtown Washington, violated the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments” provision designed to prevent corruption and foreign influence.

Karl Racine, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, called the judge’s action a victory.

“Our next step is to proceed with discovery,” Racine said in a statement. “We will soon provide the court a new schedule to begin the process of getting information about how President Trump is profiting from the presidency.”

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Will Dunham and Eric Beech

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