Donald Trump violated the U.S. Constitution “repeatedly and willfully” by “allowing his businesses to accept millions of dollars from some of the most corrupt nations on Earth.” China prominently featured in a 156-page report on the matter unveiled by Democratic congressional investigators.
Scratching the surface
Democrats on the US House of Representatives Oversight Committee said the payments detailed in the report are likely a fraction of foreign payments made to the former president and his family during the 2017–2021 administration.
Large foreign donations
The report said that four businesses owned by the Trump family conglomerate received a minimum of $7.8 million in total payments from twenty countries during his term in the White House. It discussed four properties, which amount to less than 1 percent of the 558 corporate entities Trump owned directly or indirectly when president.
Trump’s accountants concealed documents
According to the congressional investigators, the former president’s accounting firm did not provide documents concerning at least 80 percent of Trump’s business entities.
Trump broke precedent
The U.S. Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause bars accepting gifts from other nations without congressional consent. Republican frontrunner Trump broke with this precedent and his campaign trail promises by leaving his adult sons to manage his businesses instead of divesting from them or putting them into a blind trust when he took office.
“These countries spent—often lavishly—on apartments and hotel stays at Donald Trump’s properties—personally enriching President Trump while he made foreign policy decisions connected to their policy agendas with far-reaching ramifications for the United States,” the report said.
Named and shamed
Countries named in the report included China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia. The committee’s chairman, Republican James Comer, dismissed the report as a Democratic hit job.
Comer cries witch hunt
“It’s beyond parody that Democrats continue their obsession with former president Trump,” Comer stated. “Former president Trump has legitimate businesses but the Bidens do not. The Bidens and their associates made over $24m by cashing in on the Biden name in China, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Romania. No goods or services were provided other than access to Joe Biden and the Biden network.”
Shortly after Trump’s 2016 presidential election, Congress began investigating conflicts of interest and violations of the emoluments clause. Their investigation led to a lengthy court dispute, which ended in a settlement in 2022, when Trump’s accounting firm Mazars began producing the requested documents.
After Republicans wrestled back control of the House last year, the committee stopped requiring Trump’s accounting firms to produce the documents. A US district court also ended the litigation.
Raskin weighs in
Maryland representative Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, said, “After promising ‘the greatest infomercial in political history’ [regarding his business interests] … Trump repeatedly and willfully violated the constitution by failing to divest from his business empire and allowing his businesses to accept millions of dollars in payments from some of the most corrupt nations on earth.”
Raskin added, “The limited records the committee obtained show that while Donald Trump was in office, he received more than $5.5m from the Chinese government and Chinese state-owned enterprises, as well as millions more from 19 other foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, through just four of the more than 500 entities he owned.”
Payments violated Constitution
“The governments making these payments sought specific foreign policy outcomes from President Trump and his administration. Each dollar accepted violated the constitution’s strict prohibition on payments from foreign governments, which the founders enacted to prevent presidents from selling out US foreign policy to foreign leaders.”
Trump breaking records
California Democrat Eric Swalwell reacted to the report, “No president ever personally enriched himself more while in office than Donald Trump. And mostly, in his case, from foreign cash. I don’t want to hear another peep about bogus Biden allegations. Game, set, match. Move on.”
Republicans target Hunter Biden
House Republicans have launched an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, mostly centered around his son Hunter. They allege that the Biden family improperly profited from Joe Biden’s policy actions as vice president in 2009–2017 and that the DOJ politically interfered with an investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes. The White House has denied the accusations.