Democrats Introduce Bill That Will Bar President From Receiving Foreign Payments

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
May 22, 2024Congress
Democrats Introduce Bill That Will Bar President From Receiving Foreign Payments
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) speaks with reporters as he leaves the U.S. Capitol for the weekend in Washington on May 17, 2024. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Democrat lawmakers introduced a bill on Tuesday that would bar the president and other top officials from accepting payments from foreign governments, including those made through business transactions.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would enforce the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from accepting presents and payments from foreign governments without congressional consent.

“Our measure will hold the President, Members of Congress, and other top officials accountable if they betray the public’s trust and seek to enrich themselves at the American people’s expense,” Mr. Blumenthal said in a statement.

The bill would bar federal officeholders—the president, vice president, Cabinet officials, members of Congress, and other senior officials—from receiving foreign payments, including those from members of royal families and state-owned entities, while in office and for two years after leaving office, unless Congress authorized an exception.

“Any foreign payment that is received, accepted, or retained in violation of the legislation’s requirements would be seized and forfeited to the United States,” the lawmakers stated.

The president and other top officials could face imprisonment and fines of up to $50,000 for violations, and the attorney general would be authorized to bring civil actions against offending officials.

This follows a report by the House Oversight Committee Democrats, which showed that former President Donald Trump received at least $7.8 million from 20 governments, including China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Malaysia during his time in office.

Mr. Raskin said the report showed that “many Kings, princes, and foreign States” made payments to the former president with the aim of gaining “specific policy favors from his White House.”

“Although we have not needed to develop a full-blown legislative machinery to enforce the Emoluments Clause for more than two centuries, Congress must now enact a law to prevent Presidents from ever again exploiting the presidency for self-enrichment by selling out our government to foreign states,” he added.

The outlined payments mostly included spending on rent at Trump Tower and Trump World Tower—both in New York—and on stays at the Trump International Hotels in Washington and Las Vegas.

The report also alleges that President Trump allowed those payments to influence his foreign policy moves, citing his decision not to sanction the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)—which leases office space in Trump Tower—as an example.

Trump Organization Refutes Report

Kimberly Benza, a Trump Organization spokesperson, has previously refuted the report and said that House Democrats’ claims about the former president’s business dealings were “insane.”

“That narrative is insane, especially given there is no President in United States history who was tougher on China than Donald Trump … a President who introduced billions and billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on their goods and services,” she told the Epoch Times via email.

NTD Photo
Former President Donald Trump (C) at the defendant’s table with his attorney Todd Blanche (R) during his criminal trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York on May 21, 2024. (Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images)

Ms. Benza stressed that ICBC—which accounted for roughly $5.4 million of the payments detailed in the report—had been a preexisting, long-term tenant at Trump Tower since 2008—“almost a decade before President Trump entered office.”

As for the remaining funds, Ms. Benza noted that the Trump Organization does not have the “ability or viability” to prevent individuals from making reservations through third-party booking websites.

Nonetheless, she said the company voluntarily implemented a program to track payments from foreign governments, which the company donated to the U.S. Treasury Department annually.

Samantha Flom and Janice Hisle contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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