Donald Trump is obsessed with making money off of his presidency. Of course, we know about his hotel down the block from the White House where foreign governmental people rub noses. Son-in-law Jared Kushner has been shopping loans in the tens of millions and beyond from Mid-Eastern leaders. First daughter Ivanka Trump has been hauling in Chinese trademarks for her products. Still, the worst offense might be right in the commander-in-chief’s New York Trump World Tower.
In 2017 “at least seven foreign governments” rented high-end condominiums in Trump’s corrupt Tower of Babel, according to Reuters. It is located right down the street from the United Nations (UN) headquarters.
The problem was that the president did not get Congress’ permission, which means this was a likely violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of the emoluments clause was to prevent foreign governments from unduly influencing the president and other elected officials. These officials cannot receive money or gifts from foreign governments.
POTUS’ Trump Corporation hauled in over $15 million for managing properties in 2017. However, Trump’s presidential financial disclosure document did not break out funds from the Trump World Tower. The president’s New York home and office are not located in this 90-story building.
Chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings (D-MD) released a statement to Reuters which read:
‘This new information raises serious questions about the President and his businesses’ potential receipt of payments from foreign governments. The American public deserves full transparency.’
The countries that hold eight Trump World Tower condominiums: “Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Thailand, and the European Union.” Five of those also tried to rent there in 2015 and 2016: “Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and the European Union.”
Yale Law School professor and previous legal adviser in the State Department Harold Hongju Ko said:
“Letting this go without Congress knowing about it condones the creation of a second, opaque track of foreign policy. What it might lead to is a group of countries enriching the people in power on the mistaken belief that it’s going to improve their access.’
Patrick Kennedy was the leading official in the State Department tasked with considering foreign government property requests from 2007 until 2017. His office is charged with reviewing requests with an eye on “national security and diplomatic concerns.” Emolument violations were not its business:
‘The State Department’s interest in saying ‘no’ is probably zero if there’s no security threat and we have good reciprocal relations with the countries.’
Trump has been fighting several lawsuits connected to his business. Cummings said that the president has “stonewalled” his committee in its search for “detailed information about foreign government payments to Trump’s businesses.”
The U.S. Congress plus the attorneys general of the District of Columbia have claimed that other Trump properties have violated the emoluments clause, too. The president tried to have the lawsuits dismissed, but a U.S. federal judge said denied his request, because his attorneys’ definition of the clause was “unpersuasive and inconsistent”.
The Tump White House has a disturbing pattern of stonewalling its co-equal branch of the government, the Legislative Branch. The president appears to have declared war on the House of Representatives, whose lawful duty has always been oversight of the Executive Branch.