He twice failed to have a Maryland federal court lawsuit thrown out, where the state's attorney general and his District of Columbia counterpart claim President Trump is illegally taking payments from foreign and state governments at his Washington hotel.
The Democratic members of Congress' "well-pleaded complaint alleges that the President has accepted prohibited foreign emoluments without first seeking the consent of Congress", Judge Sullivan wrote.
The Justice Department said it expects the case to be dismissed.
Leading the case against Trump is Democratic Sen. That, they claim, is a violation of the Constitution.
In other words, the Democrats argue, members of Congress must vote to consent to whether a president can keep a gift or thing of value from a foreign power, and they couldn't do so if they didn't know about the payments. Richard Blumenthal of CT and Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of NY, had standing to sue Trump because he did not ask Congress before accepting anything that could be considered a foreign emolument. The White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Multiple suits have alleged that Trump has violated one or both clauses in the Constitution that forbid "emoluments", or the acceptance of some kind of reward, profit, or advantage. His hotel in D.C.in particular has reportedly received substantial additional business from foreign governments, which accrue to the president as profit. Trump's business, which he still owns, has hosted foreign embassy events and visiting foreign officials at its downtown D.C. hotel. The plaintiffs said they need a court order to make Trump obey the Constitution.
The president has not asked Congress to approve any transactions with foreign states. Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate told Sullivan on June 7 that the legislators are always free to vote on whether the president can accept such benefits, meaning they didn't suffer a legally recognisable injury giving them standing to sue.
"The next step will be to overcome their objections on the legal issues of what constitutes an emolument, but I believe we will move forward and gain access to key information on Donald Trump's income and financial dealings", Blumenthal added.
In July, Messitte dismissed the Justice Department's contention that Trump's business activity such as hotel room earnings don't qualify under the constitutional definition of emoluments. This sort of appeal is rarely granted, because lower court judges usually prefer to complete a full case before any appeal is made.