President-elect Donald Trump has a complicated relationship with China. On the one hand, Trump at one time claimed that China was being allowed to “rape our country.” On the other hand, as CBS reports, he also has not made it a secret that he benefits financially from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
The headquarters of the government-controlled Bank of China is located in Trump Tower, as Trump announced during a speech in June 2015 when he had just begun his presidential campaign:
‘I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower. I love China. People say, “Oh, you don’t like China?”‘
How much Trump loves China is debatable, but it seems certain that he loves the money he makes from their government.
It is important to note that Trump is not, at the moment, breaking any laws by renting space for the Chinese bank’s headquarters. However, the situation could potentially lead to a violation of Article I of the Constitution. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 states:
‘No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.’
Essentially, what this means is that federal officials — such as the president or president-elect, in this case — are forbidden from accepting gifts or employment from foreign leaders or companies owned by these leaders. Clearly, this will present a problem for Trump once he formally becomes the president of the United States on Jan. 20. However, as CBS points out, it is up to Congress — which is currently controlled by Republicans — to enforce this rule.
A Trump Organization spokesperson told CBS that ensuring everything regarding Trump’s business dealings is up to code is a top priority. The spokesperson also pointed out the fact that much of the responsibility for running Trump’s businesses will shift to his children in the coming months.
‘We are in the process of vetting various structures with the goal of the immediate transfer of management of The Trump Organization and its portfolio of businesses to Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump, as well as a team of highly skilled executives. This is a top priority at the Organization and the structure that is ultimately selected will comply with all applicable rules and regulations.’
Donald Trump’s business history has caused many eyebrows to raise, both throughout his campaign and since he became the president-elect. The fact that the United States has never before had a president so enveloped in foreign business dealings has led to concern about potential conflicts of interest.
The top Democrat in the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, recently wrote a letter to committee chair Jason Chaffetz, expressing his concern about Trump’s business ties and asking Rep. Chaffetz to conduct an investigation to “ensure that he does not have any actual or perceived conflicts of interest.”
Neither Donald Trump nor Jason Chaffetz has provided a response to Cummings’s request.