Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) demanded former President Donald Trump return the $7.8 million foreign governments paid to his company while he served as president in a letter released on Friday.
“I write today to demand that you immediately return to the American people the $7,886,072 that we know you have accepted from foreign governments in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause — a fact you admitted, once again, at a Fox News town hall this week,” Raskin wrote in the letter addressed to Trump.
Trump admitted that foreign governments paid his Trump Organization millions of dollars for hotel stays during a Fox News town hall in Iowa on Wednesday.
“If I have a hotel and somebody comes in from China, that’s a small amount of money and it sounds like a lot of money,” Trump said. “That’s a small [amount of money], but I was doing services for that.”
After becoming president, Trump refused to divest from his business empire of hotels, real estate, golf courses and resorts and maintained control through a revocable trust led by his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. During his presidency, those businesses received $7.8 million in payments from foreign governments, according to a report released by Raskin and House Oversight Committee Democrats on Jan. 3.
Those payments violated the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause forbidding officers of the United States from receiving anything of value from a foreign government without consent from Congress, according to Raskin.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) called on former President Donald Trump to return $7.8 million in foreign government payments he received while president.
Trump and his sons have justified the payments from foreign governments like China and Saudi Arabia as simple payments for services rendered at hotels. They claimed to have donated profits received from foreign government payments to the U.S. Treasury. This policy, however, only applied to some of Trump’s properties and only some of the payments made by foreign governments.
The Emoluments Clause, however, explicitly forbids receipt of anything of value from foreign governments — not just profits — as Raskin noted.
“[I]t is hard to imagine a more ludicrous and half-hearted approach to the categorical prohibition in the Constitution than The Trump Organization’s ‘voluntary donation’ policy, which was grossly underinclusive in several other respects,” Raskin writes. “By its own terms, the policy applied only to certain Trump properties, excluded state-controlled entities, and was not subject to any kind of audit or inspection.”
In addition to repaying the full $7.8 million Trump received from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, Raskin called on the former president and 2024 presidential candidate to “provide Congress with a full accounting of all payments, benefits, or other emoluments you received from foreign governments or their agents, including through the more than 500 entities you own, during your term as president.”
Trump faced extensive lawsuits while president that challenged his receipt of foreign government payments as unconstitutional under the emoluments clause. Those cases ended in 2021 when the Supreme Court declared them moot after he left office. Trump falsely claimed that he won the emoluments cases during a Fox News town hall on Wednesday.
Raskin’s letter to Trump demanding he repay his foreign government payments comes as Republicans seek to impeach President Joe Biden for allegedly receiving payments from foreign governments through his son, Hunter Biden. Republicans, however, have not presented nor found any evidence that such payments to Biden occurred or exist. Raskin has instead shown that Trump received copious payments from foreign governments, including $5.5 million from China.
Read the letter in full below.
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