By TIMOTHY JOHNSONReuters source Reuters – FEBRUARY 06, 2019 03:20:45NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s lawyer may be helping impeach his president, but his comments about FBI Director James Comey may be damaging to the president’s ability to defend himself in court, a New York state court judge said.
The judge’s ruling in the matter of James B. Comey’s impeachment comes as Trump has come under fire for comments he made about the FBI director, calling him a “nut job” and an “idiot” during the campaign.
Trump is facing a court challenge to his presidency over his comments.
The Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, which seeks documents and other documents related to Comey’s dismissal, and a similar lawsuit filed by the president of the University of California at Berkeley.
The two lawsuits allege the dismissal of Comey, a former FBI director who served under both President Barack Obama and President Donald J. Trump, violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits foreign governments from paying the president.
The suit also accuses Comey of mischaracterizing the firing as an effort to stop leaks and obstruction of justice, which are crimes under U.S. law.
The Trump campaign denied any collusion with Russia and dismissed the suit as politically motivated.
The appeals court ruling was not related to that case, and it did not say whether the Trump team’s arguments were sufficient to sustain impeachment.
Judicial Watch said in a statement the decision was based on the “fear that Trump’s rhetoric and actions on Comey’s firing would make it more difficult for the president to defend his agenda, and to demonstrate that he has the ability to conduct a fair, impartial, and independent presidency.”
The case against Trump, brought by Judicial Watch in April, is one of a handful of lawsuits against the Trump administration challenging its powers under the Constitution and the First Amendment to the U.N. Charter.
The suit was dismissed in April.
It’s unclear what the next step will be.
Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He previously argued in court filings that the White House’s position was that Trump is not subject to impeachment, but that the impeachment process is more than just a political ploy.