As Donald Trump admitted to taking millions of dollars from foreign governments as president, House Oversight Committee ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) demanded that Trump return the money.
I write today to demand that you immediately return to the American people the $7,886,072 that we know you have accepted from foreign governments in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause—a fact you admitted, once again, at a Fox News town hall this week.
Given that this is a fraction of your unconstitutional collections from foreign governments and that we do not yet know the complete sum of foreign money you accepted while in office, I also demand that you give Congress a full accounting of the money, benefits and other emoluments “of any kind whatever” you pocketed from foreign governments
or their agents during your term as President and that you return the total sum of these foreign emoluments to the American people by writing a check to the U.S. Treasury like the one attached, which you received from the Kuwaiti government.
I note with dismay that on social media, your son, Eric Trump, referred to the Democratic staff report detailing your violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause as “a joke” and claimed: “All foreign government profits, for stays at our hotels and other properties while my father was in office, were voluntaraly [sic] donated to the United States Treasury.” To be clear, the Constitution imposes a categorical prohibition on a president’s receipt of any payments from foreign governments without Congress’s consent—a prohibition that extends to all revenues, and not merely profits attributable to spending by foreign governments.
The Constitution does not merely forbid the receipt of “profits”—it forbids the receipt of “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever.” Hence, by its plain language, the Foreign Emoluments Clause does not give presidents any discretion to select sub-categories of foreign emoluments to return to the American people in order to keep others without Congress’s approval. If you think Congress would have swallowed your arguments that you should have been able to accept all money from foreign states other than that portion which you subjectively describe as “profits,” you should have followed the Constitution and come to Congress to ask for our permission.
Trump Admitted To Taking Millions Of Dollars From Foreign Governments
During his Fox News town hall, Trump said:
I run hotels. Look at how much money I gave back. George Washington very rich man. People don’t know that. In his White House they had an office. He had a business desk and country desk. You are allowed to do that. I didn’t do it. I put everything in trust. If I have a hotel and somebody comes in from China, that is a small amount of money. I was doing services. People staying in beautiful hotels because I have the best hotels, clubs. I have great stuff. They stayed there and pay. I don’t get eight million dollars doing nothing like Hunter. I don’t get $500,000 for doing a painting. It is not a bad idea.
Trump admitted that he violated the Constitution, and now Democrats in Congress want the money returned to the taxpayers.
Trump’s behavior is a reason why presidents can’t be trusted to do the right thing, and Congress must change the law to prevent the sort of graft and corruption that occurred during the Trump administration.
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