Maryland Democrat Representative Jamie Raskin sent former President Donald Trump a letter asking him to return the money he received from foreign governments while in the White House. Raskin’s demand came as a report alleged that Trump violated the Constitution by accepting the payments.
Raskin’s demand comes after the recent release of a report by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee that alleges Trump’s companies were paid at least $7.8 million by foreign governments, including China, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.
The 100+-page report details the payments and argues the transactions violated the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause, barring government officials from receiving gifts and money from foreign governments without congressional approval.
Give it back, Trump
Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, demanded former President Trump give back the money, arguing his acceptance of it was a “stunning violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
“Your acceptance of foreign emoluments while in office was a stunning violation of the U.S. Constitution — and a profound betrayal of the interests of the United States and the trust of the American people,” Raskin wrote.
China’s big spending
The report found that most of the payments, $5.6 million, came from China and were spent in Trump’s hotels in Las Vegas, Washington, and his New York Trump Tower.
Trump’s accountants provided partial records
Raskin argued the $7.8 million figure is likely incomplete and accounts for a small portion of the money Trump received. He said GOP Representative James Comer curtailed the investigation upon becoming committee chair in January 2023.
Hiding the truth
“Critically, the report was unable to provide a full accounting of the total amount of foreign emoluments you accepted as President, and thus, was unable to determine precisely what you owe to the American people,” Raskin wrote. “You spent years litigating against the Committee to prevent us from obtaining any documents regarding the foreign emoluments you received while in office.”
Supreme Court tossed cases
Democrats have renewed their efforts on foreign payments Trump received during his 2017–2021 term in office. In 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed two lawsuits against Trump on the issue, ruling it moot since he was no longer president. The court’s decision left the question of whether presidents can receive money from foreign governments without congressional approval open.
Trump defends payments
At a recent town hall with Fox News that ran concurrently with the latest GOP debate, Trump defended the foreign payments he received while serving as president. His son Eric claimed that the profits were donated to the Treasury Department.
Boasts about properties
“If I have a hotel and somebody comes in from China, that’s a small amount of money. I was doing services for that,” former President Trump said. “People were staying in these massive hotels, these beautiful hotels, and they stayed there and they paid. I don’t get $8 million for doing nothing.”
Raskin demands full transparency
Raskin demanded that Trump give the committee the complete financial records. “You must provide Congress with a full accounting of all payments, benefits, or other emoluments you received from foreign governments or their agents, including through the more than 500 entities you own, during your term as president — and you must pay to the American people the total amount in foreign emoluments you accepted as President,” he said.
Committee hearing argument
In a committee hearing, Raskin recently sparred with Florida GOP Representative Byron Donalds over the foreign payment claims. “There is no hotel exception, Mr. Donalds, to the foreign emoluments clause,” Raskin said. “There is no international real estate syndicate exception to the foreign emoluments clause.”
No proof has been found yet
The report comes as Republicans on the Oversight Committee investigate claims that President Joe Biden benefited from his son and brother accepting money from foreign companies in business deals while serving as vice president.