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Trump businesses took in nearly $8 million from foreign governments: House Democrats
By Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, 01/04/24
Jan 5, 2024 - 9:12:22 AM

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Former President Trump took in at least $7.8 million from foreign entities in 20 countries, according to a new report from Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, payments to his various businesses that critics say could violate a constitutional prohibition on accepting funding from foreign governments.

The volume of foreign payments during Trump’s presidency — the majority coming from China — is detailed in one of the most exhaustive reviews of Trump’s business dealings with foreign governments while in office.

Democrats cautioned the total figure is likely larger, and they blasted GOP leadership they’ve accused of releasing Trump’s accounting firm Mazars from turning over requested documents just four months after a years-long legal battle forced it to comply with a congressional subpoena.

“Critically, even this subset of documents reveals a stunning web of millions of dollars in payments made by foreign governments and their agents directly to Trump-owned businesses, while President Trump was in the White House,” Democrats wrote in their report.

“By pocketing foreign states’ payments, President Trump repeatedly placed his personal financial interest and the interests of foreign wealth and power above the public interest, resulting in precisely the split loyalty between foreign power and the American people that the Framers sought to avoid.”
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The lion’s share of the foreign money — some $5.6 million — flowed from China, which, along with other countries, primarily patronized three properties: Trump hotels in Washington and Las Vegas and Trump Tower in New York.

Concerned the billionaire hotelier’s businesses would be a magnet for foreign spending, ethics experts have long sounded the alarm that Trump’s properties would be a route for violating the emoluments clause of the constitution, which prohibits the president and other government officials from receiving profit or gain because of their role.

The report comes as the GOP is seeking to highlight the extent relatives of President Biden, mainly his son Hunter Biden, conducted business with foreign governments, including China.

While Hunter Biden did conduct millions of dollars of business with Chinese companies and investors, the review of Trump’s business ledgers showed income from Chinese government sources like China’s Embassy in the U.S. and the Chinese state-affiliated Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

ICBC spent $5.4 million over nearly three years for a lease at Trump Tower.

The report also covers Trump’s business with other Chinese companies that would not trigger emoluments clause violations but that have otherwise been under scrutiny.

The records show that CEFC, a private Chinese energy company that also did business with Hunter Biden, spent more than $5 million on an apartment in Trump World Tower through its subsidiary.

Eric Trump, the former president’s son, cast the report as “a joke” and suggested that donating the profits to their organization resolved the issue.

“What a joke! 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,” he wrote on X.

While the Trump Organization did donate profits, those disclosures came with few details about the spending or who it came from.

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a commit to caucus rally, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

And House Oversight Committee ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) argued that was not Trump’s decision to make, noting that presidents must seek the blessing of Congress to accept any foreign profits.

“Your government salary as President is the only thing you’re allowed to accept. You don’t get to choose to refuse your salary and then take money from foreign governments instead, that totally defeats the constitutional design,” Raskin said, nodding to Trump’s refusal to take his presidential salary.

“The founders were emphatic that the President of the United States be someone who gets his money not from foreign governments but rather from Americans. So you, as a president, must take your salary from the American taxpayers and not from homicidal Saudi monarchs or Chinese communist government bureaucrats.”

Oversight Republicans dismissed the report as part of an “obsession” with Trump.

“Former President Trump has legitimate businesses but the Bidens do not. The Bidens and their associates made over $24 million 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,” Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said in a statement.

However, a Washington Post fact-check found that within that pool of foreign business dealings, just $7.5 million went to Biden family members, with roughly $7 million going directly to Hunter Biden.

The fact check also said many of those businesses were not shell companies, as Comer claimed, but were organized around legitimate business activities or investments.

Other countries that patronized Trump’s businesses include Saudi Arabia, with more than $615,000 spent at his properties, and Qatar, which spent more than $460,000.

When Trump was running for office in 2015, he boasted of his good relationship with the Saudis based on his business dealings.

“Saudi Arabia, I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” he said at a campaign rally.

“Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much!”

The payments from the Saudi government and its royal family came as the country was working to secure a $100 billion arms deal with the U.S., spending money at Trump properties the month he signed the May 2019 deal.

“The Trump family essentially was selling not just access, but likely decisions that were being made at the national security level for enriching themselves and their families,” Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) said.

While the report offers significant insights into Trump’s business activities, it notes shortcomings in documenting the larger picture, writing that what was uncovered was likely a fraction of total spending.

“That $7.8 million just scratches the surface of the money that Donald Trump was collecting in his businesses around the world, but I will say, nonetheless, that that $7.8 million figure is totally scandalous in the context of American history,” Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said during a Thursday morning press conference.

Mazars was either never provided or did not retain key records, the report says, while accusing  Comer of releasing the company from providing the records won in a court battle.

House Oversight Committee ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) in March pointed to a letter from Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge saying, “I do not know the status of Mazars production, but my understanding is that the committee has no interest in forcing Mazars to complete it and is willing to release it from further obligations under the settlement agreement.”

Comer denied that at the time.

“There has been no coordination or discussion with anyone from the committee’s majority with anyone about the Mazars documents,” Comer spokesman Jessica Collins said in a statement to The Washington Post, calling the allegations “completely unfounded and untrue.”

Democrats noted they were not able to get information on several countries that records indicated had accounts at Trump-owned properties: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Namibia, Romania, and Costa Rica.

“I can only imagine how much more information we’d have of the violations of our U.S. constitution if we didn’t have the obstruction of the person that is currently serving as the chair of this committee,” said Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), another member of the panel.

The report follows another review earlier this year documenting Trump’s failure to disclose more than $250,000 in gifts from foreign governments.

Source:Ocnus.net 2024

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