The emoluments clause states:
‘[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them [i.e., the United States], 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.’
In lay mans terms that means that without Congress giving its okay, no representative of the United States can accept money, gifts, etc. from any government or representative of its people. Inversely, it means that no U.S. government official may give gifts to leaders of other governments in an attempt to gain favor from them. This clause includes Donald Trump; its purpose is to prevent bribery.
Until Donald Trump was elected, the clause wasn’t widely discussed. However, with a number of personal business holdings, many watchdog groups are understandably concerned that Donald Trump, someone known for unscrupulous business practices, is poised to engage in activity that is unethical and lends itself to his position being abused in ways that benefit him personally.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed suit against Trump in January citing that the clause prohibits Trump-owned companies from accepting payments from foreign governments, and Trump has violated the Constitution by allowing members of foreign governments to stay at his properties, specifically his D.C. hotel. Now, months later, a case of putting too much on social media, may be the proof needed to hold Trump accountable under the Emoluments Clause.
Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, Kaha Imnadze tweeted:
— Kaha Imnadze (@kahaimnadze) April 6, 2017
Whether he lodged for free or paid, his stay at the Trump International Hotel was a clear violation of the Emoluments Clause; either Imanadze received a gift from Trump or paying for his room provided Trump financial gain. In fact, his stay is the prime example of why the clause was written and reason there is a need to guard against corruption.
Furthermore, since it’s now known that Trump wasn’t totally honest about transferring his personal business holdings to his sons, it’s clear that he will directly benefit from Imnadze having in essence paid him. Even more unethical is what appears to be Imnadze giving a shameless plug/free advertisement to the Trump-owned hotel. He has never tweeted about his stay at any other hotel and makes a compelling argument for one of many ways in which foreign governments are seeking favor from Trump.
Norm Eisen, Co-Chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, had this to say regarding the Trump administration’s repeated violations of the Emoluments Clause:
‘We also know of Saudi and other Middle East examples. We will find out about a lot more when we get to discovery in our case.’
Eisen also reminded that since Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, now has an official position, she too should be worried about foreign payments to the hotel. She is party owner of the property.
Eisen went on to argue:
‘This is not just a problem for the president but, now that she works for him, for his daughter. According to her financial disclosures, she apparently benefits from the foreign government payments there as well. If so, that’s a violation too.’
Trump and his D.C. hotel continue to be at the heart of controversy. Two small business owners also filed suit alleging that Trump’s illegal use of his position is to the detriment of their bar. Therefore, Imnadze’s brazen boasting of Trump’s violation of the Constitution begs the question, “How many times will Trump be allowed to break the law?”
Featured Image via Getty/Paul J. Richards/Staff