June 7, 2018

Whitehouse Statement on Hearing in Trump Foreign Emoluments Case

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a party to the lawsuit filed against President Donald Trump by members of Congress under the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, released the following statement on a hearing in the case today:

“So far, Donald Trump’s presidency has been a study in self-dealing.  As the president sits at the controls of the federal government, his Trump brands and businesses win favors and make money from foreign interests.  There’s the new Trump six-star hotel and luxury resort in Indonesia that just received backing from a Chinese state-owned company.  There’s the multi-million-dollar apartment the Qatari government just bought in one of Trump’s New York towers.  There are the dozen Chinese trademarks the president’s daughter received in the last three months alone.  And there are the rooms booked, rounds of golf played, and countless other transactions at Trump properties like Mar a Lago and Trump International Hotel by those with business before the executive branch.

“Benjamin Franklin’s snuffbox was a mere trinket by comparison.

“The Founding Fathers wrote safeguards into the Constitution against these embarrassing foreign emoluments, including requiring that Congress sign off on every foreign gift the president receives.  That’s why this lawsuit is so important.  The American people, through their representatives in Congress, must be able to end this self-dealing.”

Under the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, the “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” may not accept “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” unless Congress explicitly consents.  In their case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the members of Congress assert they have not been allowed to vote on the numerous payments and other benefits the Trump Organization has accepted from foreign interests during Trump’s presidency.


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