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Statement on Impeachment

Yesterday Speaker Pelosi announced the opening of an official impeachment inquiry against the president. Regardless of what conclusion is ultimately reached, our leaders must be held accountable for their actions, and this includes Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh.

To ensure a balance of power between executive, legislative and judiciary, it is the duty of the United States Congress to investigate and present factual information to the American people.

After voting against impeachment four times, it was nice to see Representative Foster get on board with the idea of doing his job and investigating the president’s clearly impeachable offenses. Trump has from the beginning of his administration, used his office for private gain, from his hotel in D.C. to his resort Mar-a-lago in Florida, favorable treatment for his and his family’s trademarks by China and continued business with foreign nationals in direct violation of the emoluments clause.

The release of the Ukrainian documents is just the most recent potential impeachable offense. The clear violations of the emolument’s clause remain the most airtight case for impeachment. The Emoluments Clause reads:

• The Foreign Emoluments Clause (art. I, § 9, cl. 8): “[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

• The Domestic Emoluments Clause (a.k.a. the Presidential Emoluments Clause) (art. II, § 1, cl. 7): “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

• The Ineligibility Clause (art. I, § 6, cl. 2): “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.”

Because President Trump has at no time sought or received the consent of Congress to accept any foreign emoluments, even though public reporting makes clear that he has already violated the Clause in at least three respects:

Foreign States Paying for Space in Trump-Owned Towers

• The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which is owned by China, leases space in Manhattan’s Trump Tower. The bank’s lease is estimated to be “worth close to $2 million annually.” [Washington Post, July 5, 2018]

• The governments of Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, and Thailand all pay for space in Manhattan’s Trump World Tower. During the first eight months of Trump’s presidency, more foreign governments sought permission to lease space in Trump World Tower than in the previous two years combined. [Reuters, May 2, 2019] [Mansion Global, May 4, 2018]

Foreign States Paying for Rooms and Events at Trump Hotels

• The Saudi Arabian government paid approximately $270,000 for rooms and expenses at Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., between November 2016 and February 2017. [Politico, Feb. 9, 2017] [Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2017]

• The Embassy of Kuwait held its National Day Celebration at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel in February 2017. The estimated price of the celebration was between $40,000 and $60,000. The next year, the embassy again paid for a celebration at the hotel. [Reuters, Feb. 27, 2017] [Washington Post, January 26, 2018]

• The Malaysian Prime Minister and dozens of members of his diplomatic delegation stayed at President Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel in September 2017, with the Prime Minister reportedly traveling from the hotel in a motorcade straight to the White House for a meeting with the President. [Washington Post, September 12, 2017]

Foreign States Giving Intellectual Property Rights to Trump Companies

• Since Trump became President, the Chinese government has approved 40 new trademarks to Trump and his companies. Circumstances suggest that these trademarks were approved or expedited as a result of Trump’s status as President of the United States; the director of a Hong Kong intellectual property consultancy, for instance, “said he had never seen so many applications approved so expeditiously,” and the approvals closely followed Trump’s abrupt decision to honor the one-China policy, in contrast to his earlier statements. [Associated Press, Mar. 9, 2017]

In addition to the emoluments that have been publicly reported, there are almost certainly many more that are not yet known about — that, in fact, it is impossible to know about absent judicial process to compel Trump to provide information about his businesses and the benefits he has received from foreign states.

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