At least seven foreign governments were given the green light from the Trump State Department to pay out money that could find its way into Trump’s own personal bank accounts.
Reuters reported on Thursday that the governments of Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Thailand, and the European Union were allowed to rent luxury condominiums in Trump World Tower in New York — even though doing so could violate the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits federal officials like Trump from accepting payments or gifts from foreign governments without the approval of Congress.
It also appears that Trump and his underlings understand the potential problems with this deal, and thus sought to hide it from congressional oversight.
“Congressional staffers confirmed to Reuters that the Trump World Tower lease requests were never submitted to Congress,” the outlet reported.
Trump’s electoral victory seems to have triggered a mad rush for those who wanted to influence U.S. policy to get money into Trump World Tower and into Trump’s pockets.
Reuters notes that in the eight months following Trump’s inauguration, foreign governments sent 13 notes to the State Department looking to rent or renew leases in Trump’s building. That was more foreign government requests in a short time window than in the last two years of the Obama administration; President Barack Obama did not open himself up to the appearance of bribery like Trump.
All of these foreign entities have major diplomatic and financial agreements and negotiations with the United States — and every decision Trump made regarding those governments could have been tainted by corruption.
“Letting this go without Congress knowing about it condones the creation of a second, opaque track of foreign policy,” Harold Hongju Koh, a professor at Yale Law School and former legal adviser at the State Department, told Reuters.
“This new information raises serious questions about the President and his businesses’ potential receipt of payments from foreign governments,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings told Reuters.
Trump has been trying to thwart investigations into him and his businesses by Cummings’ committee and others in Congress. When Republicans ran the House, they did not bother to investigate these violations of the law or ethics.
Trump refused to follow the tradition followed by both Democratic and Republican presidents of divesting of his personal business holdings before taking office or putting them in a blind trust.
This means that since Trump is still an active owner of the Trump Corporation, which owns the property in question, money that is generated by the company finds its way into Trump’s personal accounts.
Trump has a similarly corrupt operation in place with the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Foreign governments, Republican Party committees and affiliated PACs, and lobbyists seeking to influence Trump are all doing business with his hotel.
The newly revealed condo arrangement with foreign governments is just one of many examples of how Trump’s presidency allows a culture of corruption to flourish.
Published with permission of The American Independent.
IMAGE: President Donald Trump reacts during the swearing in ceremony for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who oversaw the State Department when foreign governments leased condos in Trump World Tower. REUTERS/Carlos Barria