Remember the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, the one that says that presidents aren't supposed to get gifts or payments from foreign governments without Congressional approval?
Rep Elijah Cummings [D-MD] is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which asked the Trump Organization to produce a detailed account of the representatives from foreign governments who've given money to Trump by booking hotel rooms and the like. In response, the Trump Organization sent a "glossy, eight-page pamphlet that contains a total of 40 sentences," none of which answered Congress's questions.
Instead, the pamphlet explained that the Trump Organization wasn't willing to track the origin of the payments it receives because it would be "impractical" to ask people paying it money to state whether they were acting on behalf of a government, and doing so would "diminish the guest experience of our brand."
Also: because it's not the year of end, the Trump Organization apparently has not done its record-keeping.
The pamphlet does not appear to capture indirect payments by foreign governments
through third parties. According to the pamphlet, “foreign governments can be organized in very
different ways. Some may operate through state-owned and state-controlled entities in industries
such as aerospace and defense, banking, finance, healthcare, energy and others.” However,
Trump Organization businesses will expend no effort to identify payments from these
government entities, according to the pamphlet.
The deficiencies in this approach are obvious. Under the policy outlined in this
pamphlet, foreign governments could provide prohibited emoluments to President Trump, for
example, through organizations such as RT, the propaganda arm of the Russian government, or a
host of other entities that are funded and controlled by foreign governments. Those payments
would not be tracked in any way and would be hidden from the American public.
For the reasons set forth above, we reiterate our request for a briefing with Committee
staff to discuss these issues in greater detail, and we request that you schedule this briefing on or
before June 2, 2017. We also request that by June 2, 2017, you comply fully with the request for
documents the Committee made in its bipartisan letter on April 21, 2017.
Dear Mr. Sorial [Rep Elijah Cummings/House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform]