Trump could have profited personally off a now-abandoned plan to host the 2020 G-7 summit at his Miami golf resort.
Donald Trump attacked the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution during a televised presidential Cabinet meeting on Monday.
The remark came as he was defending his plan, now scrapped, to hold the 2020 G-7 summit at his Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.
"It would've been the greatest G-7 ever," Trump said. "And I would've said to my family — because they run my business now, I don't run my business, I actually put all the stuff in trusts... and I didn't have to do that. Under no obligation to do it."
Trump then claimed that "George Washington, he ran his business simultaneously while he was president."
"Many other presidents, there weren't too many really rich presidents, but there were a few, they ran their business," he continued. "Hey, Obama made a deal for a book. Is that running a business? I'm sure he didn't even discuss it while he was president."
He concluded, "[Other presidents], they ran their businesses.... I don't think you people with this phony emoluments clause... and by the way, I would say it's cost me anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president, and that's okay, between what I lose and what I could've made, if I just ran my business. I was doing it really well."
Trump's assertion that he "put all the stuff" — his business holdings specifically — "in trusts" is misleading. In reality, Trump never divested from his private business holdings and established no real barriers between his presidential office and his sons, who run the Trump Organization on a day-to-day basis.
Trump's claim that the emoluments clause is "phony" is also false. The clause is in fact located in Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and reads:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, 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 clause was put in place to prevent leaders from being influenced by outside governments.
Trump's now-defunct arrangement for the 2020 G-7 ran in almost direct contradiction to the law, according to experts.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the House Oversight Committee and a former constitutional law professor, called the idea a "brazen violation of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses in the U.S. Constitution" when the plan was first announced.
"A G-7 summit at Trump Doral would violate both clauses as it would mean huge payments to a Trump resort coming from both foreign government guests attending and participating federal agencies," Raskin said in a press release. "The Constitution states that the President may not receive any payment from a ‘King, Prince or foreign State’ without obtaining Congressional consent and may not accept ‘any other Emolument from the United States’ beyond his official salary."
Trump has received payments from foreign governments for the use of his properties throughout his presidency, triggering multiple lawsuits. He has also taken in payments from corporate interests who have been directly impacted by his presidential decision making.
His resorts have also attracted enormous spending from Republican candidates along with affiliated political action committees (PACs).
Trump, for his part, claims the payments are above board because his company has donated foreign profits to the U.S. Treasury.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.