House Democrats on the Oversight Committee released a new report on Wednesday alleging that Donald Trump’s hotels and other business took in millions of dollars from foreign governments while he was president. The report accuses Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit a president from receiving payments from foreign states or governments.
According to the report, Trump properties received at least $7.8 million in payments and other benefits from foreign governments during his four years in office. The payments came from a variety of countries, with China and Saudi Arabia being the largest sources.
Democrats allege these payments represented violations of the emoluments clauses and enriched Trump while he was making foreign policy decisions that impacted some of the same countries. They are calling for tighter ethics laws governing presidents’ business interests.
However, Republicans dismissed the report as a political attack and noted the payments went to Trump’s businesses, not to Trump personally. The report did not offer evidence Trump made any foreign policy decisions based on the payments.
Timeline of Key Events
January 2017: Trump takes office while refusing calls to fully separate from his business empire. His hotels and properties continue to do business with foreign governments.
Summer 2017: First lawsuits filed by ethics groups and Democrats accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clauses. Lawsuits work through the courts over the next four years.
2019-2020: House Democrats begin investigation into foreign government spending at Trump properties after taking control of the House in 2019. They issue subpoenas for financial records from Trump businesses.
January 2021: Trump leaves office after losing reelection. Ethics lawsuits dismissed as moot since he is no longer president.
2023: Now back in the majority, House Democrats revive the emoluments investigation. The Oversight Committee releases its 50-page report on January 4th, 2024 outlining millions in foreign payments to Trump properties.
Breakdown of Foreign Payments
The Oversight Committee identified over $7.8 million in foreign payments and benefits to six Trump properties over the four years of his presidency:
- Trump International Hotel (Washington D.C.) – $3.7 million
- Trump International Hotel and Tower (Vancouver) – $1.2 million
- Trump International Hotel and Tower (New York) – $1.1 million
- Trump International Hotel (Hawaii) – $772,000
- Trump International Hotel (Las Vegas) – $600,000
- Mar-a-Lago Club (Florida) – $64,000
In addition to the actual payments, the report notes foreign governments helped boost revenue at Trump properties by spending on catering, hotel stays, and other services.
The largest sources of foreign payments were:
|Over $1 million
|Over $1 million
Responses from Trump and Republicans
Trump dismissed the Democrats’ report as “fake news” and said all payments went to his businesses, not him personally. In a statement, he accused Democrats of continuing an endless partisan “witch hunt” against him.
House Republicans also criticized the report as politically-motivated. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the new Oversight Committee chairman, said Democrats were obsessed with attacking Trump and called the report a “fake scandal.”
However, a few Republican senators said it was inappropriate for presidents to receive payments from foreign governments and called for tighter ethics standards. Sen. Mitt Romeny (R-UT) said Trump had “an appearance of evil” by maintaining his business empire as president.
What Happens Next
With Republicans now in control of the House, they are unlikely to continue investigating Trump’s business dealings. It remains unclear if the Justice Department would ever open an investigation into potential violations of the emoluments clauses. No president has ever been prosecuted under these constitutional provisions.
Democrats say the report justifies new legislation restricting a president’s ability to own businesses that receive foreign government revenue. Some ethics advocates want presidents forced to use blind trusts or fully divest from their holdings, a standard Trump resisted.
The report’s findings may also bolster Democrats if Trump runs again in 2024. His Democratic opponent could use the millions in foreign payments to criticize Trump’s ties to countries like China and his commitment to ethics standards. However, the impact could be muted since Trump endured many other controversies already.
For now, the Democrats’ report stands as an official government record of how much money Trump properties received from foreign interests seeking to curry favor with the most powerful figure on the global stage. But absent wider action, the report alone has limited real consequences for Trump or changes to presidential ethics laws.
Oversight Committee Foreign Payments Report
The Oversight Committee report provides a breakdown of payments from foreign governments and state-owned businesses to six Trump properties. This gives a sense of where the money originated from during Trump’s four years in office.
|Total Foreign Payments
|Largest Single Foreign Source
|Trump International Hotel (Washington D.C)
|Saudi Arabia: $1+ million
|Trump International Hotel and Tower (Vancouver)
|Trump International Hotel and Tower (New York)
|Trump International Hotel (Hawaii)
|Trump International Hotel (Las Vegas)
|Mar-a-Lago Club (Florida)
*Data unavailable on exact figures or largest sources due to lack of financial records provided by Trump Organization.
The committee found foreign payments “poured in” from day one of Trump’s presidency, including over $260,000 on January 20, 2017 itself – Trump’s inauguration day. This illustrates foreign interests were staying at Trump properties and paying directly to his family business right as he took office.
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