US judge refuses to toss suit against Trump on foreign payments

WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday gave the go ahead to part of a lawsuit that accuses President Donald Trump of flouting constitutional safeguards against corruption by maintaining ownership of his business empire while in office.

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Maryland refused a request by the Justice Department to throw out the case entirely, although he narrowed the claims to include only those involving the Trump International Hotel in Washington and not Trump's businesses outside of the U.S. capital.

The lawsuit was filed by the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland last June.

The ruling marked a setback for the administration's efforts to quash claims that Trump has violated the U.S. Constitution's "emoluments" provisions, which have dogged Trump since even before he took office last year.

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The provisions are designed to prevent corruption and foreign influence. One bars U.S. officials from accepting gifts or other emoluments from foreign governments without congressional approval. The other forbids the president from receiving emoluments from individual states.

The lawsuit claimed that the president failed to disentangle himself from his hotels and other businesses, making him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking to curry favor with him.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)