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Chaffetz wants to know: What will happen with money Trump's businesses earn from foreign governments?

First Published      Last Updated Apr 22 2017 11:05 am


Oversight panel » Inquiry about the president’s plans to donate the funds comes after the Utah congressman announced that he might resign.

Washington • The top two members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — including Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah — are asking President Donald Trump's attorney to explain how and when he'll donate to the U.S. Treasury any profits that come from foreign government payments to Trump properties.

In a letter to Trump Organization attorney Sheri Dillon, Chaffetz and the committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, asked how Trump plans to implement a promise made to prevent any violations of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which forbids the president from receiving any material benefits from foreign powers.




"Additional details of the plan to donate profits derived from foreign government payments, however, are still unclear," the members wrote. "Meanwhile, recent news accounts have reported that the Trump Organization may have received payments from foreign government sources since President Trump's inauguration."

While it's unclear how many foreign governments have patronized Trump properties, there are reports that the Kuwait Embassy held a celebration at the Trump International Hotel as well as foreign leaders paying to stay at the hotel only blocks from the White House.

Chaffetz, who now says he won't seek re-election and may step down early from his House seat, has faced increasing criticism for a lack of investigation into Trump's potential conflicts of interest, including whether he has violated the Emoluments Clause.

While most presidents put their assets and investments in a blind trust — where they don't control the money flow or decisions — Trump has not divested himself from his array of business interests.

The requests from Chaffetz and Cummings include documents and information to "better understand the mechanics of how this arrangement will be implemented."

That includes how the companies are identifying what are foreign payments; how the profits are calculated; how the details of them will be reported publicly and whether the Trump Organization or the president himself will take a tax write-off for making a gift to the treasury.

Dillon had promised in January, at a news conference where Trump laid out stacks of paper to show his earnest efforts, that the Trump Organization would hire an ethics officer and chief compliance officer to prevent any possible legal violations. A Trump spokeswoman told USA Today last month that the company had developed a policy and would donate money but would not detail the plan.

"The donation will be made on an annual basis after the end of each calendar year," spokeswoman Amanda Miller said.

tburr@sltrib.com

 

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