Following a new report which found representatives of at least 22 foreign governments have spent money at Trump Organization properties, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) reintroduced the Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act on Tuesday. The bill would make it a criminal offense for the President, Vice President, their families, or companies in which they have at least half-ownership to accept or receive anything of value from a foreign power or from any company that is more than 50 percent controlled by a foreign power.
“This new report shows more evidence of a significant foreign cash flow to President Trump that violates the United States Constitution,” Swalwell said. “Two and a half years into his presidency, Donald Trump continues to make money in nearly two dozen countries around the world. This kind of behavior is unprecedented and unacceptable. The American people deserve to know their president is working for them, and them only.”
Donald Trump is the only president in modern history to retain ownership of his businesses. According to a report which analyzed the president’s most recent annual personal financial disclosure released by the Office of Government Ethics in May, Donald Trump continued to hold more than $130 million in foreign assists in a revocable trust. The analysis also found Trump’s business entanglements continue to leave him with positions, assets, trademarks and other business interests in more than 30 countries. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all used blind trusts to isolate their business interests while in office. President Barack Obama did not hold any interests or assets that could present a conflict of interests.
The Constitution prohibits government employees – including elected officials, but not their relatives – from receiving “emoluments” or gifts from foreign states except as allowed by Congress. The Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act would improve upon current law by expanding the prohibition’s application for sources to include companies controlled by foreign countries, and for recipients to include the President’s and Vice President’s immediate family members and companies they control. Additionally, it expands the prohibition’s scope from gifts, to include “anything of value” and would make violations subject to criminal penalties.
Donald Trump reassigned oversight of the Trump Organization to his adult children and stated he would pursue “no new deals” during his time in the Oval Office. Although the Trump Organization ended some proposed deals around the world, it has opened several new properties since 2017, with several providing direct income to Trump. The Trump Organization has yet to publicly release the trust agreement, or any portions of the document showing that transactions with foreign governments are prohibited. Though the new bill would not criminalize past financial arrangements, it would ensure no such relationships continue.
“It’s long past time that Congress takes a meaningful stand against any effort to buy and sell our White House,” Swalwell said. “America’s Presidents and Vice Presidents must not enrich themselves from foreign sources – they should hold themselves to a higher standard, and if they won’t, it’s our job to do it for them.”