President Donald Trump maintains a major financial stake in the private sector while he’s supposed to be administering the United States, and now, it’s been revealed to have provided the opportunity for more potential corruption. Apparently, a not publicly identified trade association and foreign government both “booked a large quantity of rooms” at Trump’s hotels but never actually used a significant portion of them, suggesting what House Oversight Committee member Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) called “raw bribery.” The issue is part of the panel’s investigation into the president that itself is part of the recently formalized impeachment inquiry into Trump.
As Connolly put it:
‘Now we’re looking at near raw bribery. That was the risk from day one — foreign governments and others trying to seek favor because we know Trump pays attention to this… It’s an obvious attempt to curry favor with him.’
Foreign governments have already patronized Trump’s business on a number of occasions since he was elected. For instance, shortly after that election, Saudi government lobbyists spent more than $250,000 at his hotel in D.C. In the time since those transactions, which transpired in late 2016 after Trump’s election, Trump has repeatedly and publicly ingratiated himself to the Saudis, even turning a blind eye to evidence implicating the top rungs of their leadership in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and refusing to condemn them.
Other interests, like the Kuwaiti government, have also repeatedly used Trump’s hotels, especially the one in D.C. itself. The cash flows have sparked allegations that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from receiving gifts from foreign powers outside official channels. If those pouring the money into Trump’s businesses actually use the businesses, then the president’s side has at least a semblance of legitimacy to fall back on in defense — but that evaporates if literally all that’s happening is a money transfer.
Oversight Committee member Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) insisted of these latest allegations:
‘If true, at minimum this suggests there is a culture of corruption that the administration has created. There’s a sense that to curry favor you have to engage in pay to play. That’s exactly what the American people hate about Washington.’
There have been other instances of corruption surrounding Trump’s properties already, like the recent assertion he made at a press conference that the next G7 summit of world leaders should be held at one of his resorts in Florida. If that happens, it would constitute the sitting president of the United States literally making money off his position at an unprecedented level — although he’s already doing so. POLITICO notes that thanks to the Trump administration’s patronage of the president’s own properties, the federal government has likely spent millions and counting there
The ongoing investigation into this corruption is now part of a broader inquiry into what case can be made that Trump should be impeached.
The present stage is for committees including the oversight panel to accumulate evidence to forward to the House Judiciary Committee, which would then have to choose whether to approve articles of impeachment against Trump and send them for a vote by the full House.
Featured Image via screenshot