Foreign governments are leasing properties at New York City’s Trump World Tower. At least seven foreign leases were approved by the State Department in 2017, which bypassed Congressional oversight.
Reuters reports that this raises questions about violations to the Emoluments Clause in the United States Constitution, which forbids a president from making money from foreign powers while in office.
Legal analysts worry that Trump’s dealings with foreign government officials in this capacity would not pass legal tests if the issue were put before Congress. Trump’s transactions with regards to his real estate properties are already under a microscope and have made the president the target of lawsuits as a result.
The Democratically controlled House has much interest in looking at Trump’s leases with representatives of foreign governments. However, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has reportedly been, “stonewalled” in these efforts.
Cummings told Reuters:
“This new information raises serious questions about the President and his businesses’ potential receipt of payments from foreign governments. The American public deserves full transparency.”
Reuters reached out to the State Department for an explanation, but they passed the matter on to the Department of Justice, citing “matters related to ongoing litigation.” The Department of Justice had nothing to say to the news organization on the matter.
The State Department had to approve the leases from the foreign governments under the 1982 Missions Act, and there were more requests for them during the first few months of Trump’s time in the White House than in the entire preceding two years. This suggests that Trump’s position has allowed him and his family to make money from foreign governments. This clearly raises legitimate emoluments questions.
Whether Trump or his family are violating the Constitution with these leases, remains to be seen, but House Democrats will likely find out sooner rather than later.
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Shannon Barber is a progressive queer feminist and budding political scientist. She is passionate about issues of social justice, including but not limited to racial equality, criminal justice reform, pro-Black politics, and LGBTQ equality. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.