Before taking the oath of presidential office on January 20, Donald Trump claimed his company would donate the foreign government money it received into the United States Treasury. This would help him to avoid any possible conflict of interest. Months later, the Trump Organization said it was too difficult to calculate what percentage of its profits came from foreign governments.
The organization provided a short policy pamphlet to the House Oversight Committee that detailed its payment tracking for restaurants, golf courses and hotels around the world. While it would separate funds from entities that are associated with foreign governments, the organization said it would not scrutinize payments to determine if they violate the U.S. Constitution’s emolument prohibition.
The organization’s pamphlet said it was impractical to fully identify all customer types at its global properties and demanding that level of identification was an invasion of privacy.
Elijah Cummings, a representative from Maryland, said the organization’s policy raised serious questions about President Trump’s adherence to the Constitution. Cummings added that it would be very easy for Russian entities, such as their state-run media outlet RT, to redirect funds to the Trump Organization without the American government or public ever finding out.
Cummings said Trump has two choices available. He could either completely separate himself from his business interests or ask Congress to construct a new plan to keep him in compliance. Trump has made it clear that intends to do neither.
The president’s attorneys have said that Trump’s donation of foundation money into the Treasury is strictly voluntary, and he is not committing a conflict of interest or in violation of the emoluments clause. Experts in ethics from both sides of the aisle disagree and claim that the Trump legal team response is inadequate and does not address the obvious constitutional violations.