WASHINGTON — A U.S. appeals court in Virginia agreed to reconsider a Maryland and District of Columbia lawsuit accusing President Trump of using his office to enrich himself in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

A three-judge panel had rejected the case in July. That decision overturned a pair of trial court rulings that had let the lawsuit to go forward and granted Democratic attorneys general Brian Frosh of Maryland and Karl Racine of the District permission to start investigating Trump’s financial records.

The lawsuit claims that Trump’s financial interest in a luxury hotel near the White House is a blatant violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on “emoluments” – profits or gains received directly or indirectly by the president from foreign, federal or state governments.

As evidence of the prohibition on “domestic emoluments,” the attorneys point to former Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s stays at Trump International – first reported in the Portland Press Herald in 2017 – as he was meeting with administration officials and urging the president to rescind the designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

A full complement of judges sitting on the Richmond-based court scheduled a new hearing on Dec. 12. A New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals revived a separate suit in a ruling last month. A third such lawsuit, filed by more than 200 Democratic members of Congress, is pending in Washington.

The Richmond court’s ruling comes just days after a Washington appellate court said congressional Democrats are entitled to obtain records from the president’s accountants.

The series of rulings is bound to deepen Trump’s political peril as House Democrats press an impeachment inquiry prompted by a whistleblower’s complaint accusing the president of tying foreign aid to Ukraine with that country’s willingness to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.


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