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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

California Democrat Zoe Lofgren Accuses President Donald Trump of Inappropriate Business Deals While President (Emoluments Violations)

March 27, 2017


Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, pursu- ant to clause 2(a)(1) of rule IX, I rise to give notice of my intent to raise a question of the privileges of the House.

The form of the resolution is as follows:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President shall immediately disclose his tax return information to Congress and the American people.

Whereas, the Emoluments Clause was included in the U.S. Constitution for the express purpose of preventing federal officials from accepting any ‘‘present, Emolument, Office, or Title . . . from any King, Prince, or foreign State’’;

Whereas, in Federalist No. 22 (Alex- ander Hamilton) it is said, ‘‘One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they af- ford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption,’’ and;

Whereas, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention specifically de- signed the Emoluments Clause as an antidote to potentially corrupting for- eign practices of a kind that the Fram- ers had observed during the period of the Confederation, and;

Whereas, Article 1, section 9, clause 8 of the Constitution states: ‘‘no person holding any office of profit or trust . . . shall, without the consent of the Con- gress, accept of any present, Emolu- ment, Office, or Title of any kind what- ever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State’’, and;

Whereas, in 2009, the Office of Legal Counsel clarified that corporations owned or controlled by foreign governments presumptively qualify as foreign States under the foreign Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, the word ‘‘emoluments’’ means profit, salary, fees, or compensa- tion which would include direct payment, as well as other benefits, including extension of credit, forgiveness of debt, or the granting of rights of pecuniary value, and;

Whereas, according to The New Yorker, in 2012, The Trump Organization entered into a deal with Ziya Mammadov to build the Trump Tower Baku in the notoriously corrupt country Azerbaijan in possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and, by profiting from business with the Mammadov family, due to their financial entanglements with the Iran Revolutionary Guard may have also violated the Emoluments Clause if income from this project continues to flow to The Trump Organization, and;

Whereas, The Trump Organization has deals in Turkey, admitted by the President himself during a 2015 Brietbart interview, and when the President announced his travel ban, Turkey’s President called for President Trump’s name to be removed from Trump Towers Istanbul, according to The Wall Street Journal, and President Trump’s company is currently involved in major licensing deals for that prop- erty which may implicate the Emolu- ments Clause, and;

Whereas, shortly after election, the President met with the former U.K. Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, to get help to stop obstruc- tions of the view from one of his golf resorts in Scotland, and according to The New York Times, both of the resorts he owns there are promoted by Scotland’s official tourism agency, a benefit that may violate the Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, at Trump Tower in New York, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is a large tenant, according to Bloomberg; the United Arab Emirates leases space, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority; and the Saudi Mission to the U.N. makes annual payments, according to the New York Daily News, and money from these foreign countries goes to the President, and;

Whereas, according to NPR, in February China gave provisional approval for 38 new trademarks for The Trump Organization, which have been sought for a decade to no avail, until Presi- dent Trump won the election. This is a benefit the Chinese Government gave to the President’s businesses in pos- sible violation of the Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, the President is part owner of a New York building carrying a $950 million loan, partially held by the Bank of China, according to The New York Times, when owing the Govern- ment of China by the extension of loans and credits by a foreign State to an officer of the United States would violate the Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, NPR reported that the Embassy of Kuwait held its 600 guest Na- tional Day celebration at Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., last month, proceeds to Trump, and;

Whereas, according to The Washington Post, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has hired a ‘‘director of diplomatic sales’’ to generate high-priced business among foreign leaders and diplomatic delegations, and;

Whereas, according to his 2016 candidate filing with the Federal Election Commission, the President has 564 financial positions in companies located in the United States and around the world, and;

Whereas, against the advice of ethics attorneys and the Office of Govern- ment Ethics, the President has refused to divest his ownership stake in his businesses, and;

Whereas, the Director of the non-partisan Office of Government Ethics said that the President’s plan to trans- fer his business holdings to a trust managed by family members is ‘‘meaningless’’ and ‘‘does not meet the standards that . . . every President in the past four decades has met’’, and;
Whereas, in the United States’ sys- tem of checks and balances, Congress has a responsibility to hold the executive branch of government to the high- est standard of transparency to ensure the public interest is placed first and the Constitution is adhered to, and;

Whereas, the House Judiciary Com- mittee has the first responsibility among the committees of the House to see that elements of our Constitution are adhered to and, in furtherance of that responsibility, Judiciary Com- mittee members have historically utilized fact-finding and research prior to formal hearings, and;

Whereas, tax returns provide an im- portant baseline disclosure because they contain highly instructive infor- mation including whether the filer paid taxes, what they own, what they have borrowed and from whom, whether they have made any charitable dona- tions, and whether they have taken ad- vantage of tax loopholes and that such information would be material to members of the Judiciary Committee as research is undertaken on whether President Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitu- tion, and;

Whereas, disclosure of the Presi- dent’s tax returns would be an effective means for the President to provide evidence either refuting or confirming claims of violations of the Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, the President’s tax returns are likely to be essential as members of the Judiciary Committee work to research potential violations of the Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, the chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee, Joint Committee on Taxation, and Senate Fi- nance Committee have the authority to request the President’s tax returns under section 6103 of the Tax Code, and this power is an essential tool in learning whether the President may be in violation of the Emoluments Clause, and;

Whereas, questions involving constitutional functions and the House’s constitutionally granted powers have been recognized as valid questions of the privileges of the House.

Resolved, that the House of Representatives shall:

One, immediately request the tax re- turn information of Donald J. Trump for tax years 2000 through 2015 for re- view by Congress, as part of a deter- mination as to whether the President is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under rule IX, a resolution offered from the floor by a Member other than the majority leader or the minority leader as a question of the privileges of the House has immediate precedence only at a time designated by the Chair with- in 2 legislative days after the resolu- tion is properly noticed.

Pending that designation, the form of the resolution noticed by the gentlewoman from California will appear in the RECORD at this point.
The Chair will not at this point determine whether the resolution constitutes a question of privilege. That determination will be made at the time designated for consideration of the resolution. 

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