Oversight Dems Insist That Gowdy Finally Start Investigating President’s Compliance with Emoluments Clause of U.S. Constitution
Today, all Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy requesting that the Committee finally launch a serious investigation of President Donald J. Trump’s compliance with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, as well as the numerous conflicts of interest caused by his refusal to liquidate all of his assets and place them in a blind trust, as both Republican and Democratic ethics experts recommended.
“Over the past year, President Trump and his attorneys have stalled virtually any credible oversight, and unfortunately our Committee has done nothing to push back on these efforts, press for answers to these questions, or obtain documents that would assist our efforts to carry out our duties under the Constitution to act as an independent check on the President and the Executive Branch,” the Members wrote.
One year ago today, President-elect Trump held a press conference to announce that he would not liquidate his assets or establish an independent blind trust. Instead, his attorney, Sheri Dillon, stood in front of a table stacked with manila folders and said, “The Constitution does not require President-elect Trump to do anything here,” but he “is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury.”
The documents in the folders referenced by Trump and his attorney during the press conference were never provided to Congress. According to press accounts at the time, “Trump staffers blocked reporters from examining the folders,” and others suggested that they “actually appear to have been blank.” The Trump team confirmed later that the folders were merely “visual aids.”
To his credit, in April, then-Chairman Jason Chaffetz agreed to Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings’ request to seek documents directly from the Trump Organization, and the Committee sent a bipartisan letter requesting six broad categories of documents and a briefing from Trump Organization officials.
The Trump Organization’s response was “insultingly incomplete,” according to the Democrats’ letter.
The Trump Organization provided only a single document—a glossy, eight-page pamphlet—and an email forwarding this pamphlet to various Trump Organization entities. The pamphlet made clear that the Trump Organization would not attempt to identify all foreign emoluments prohibited by the Constitution, claiming that it would be “impractical” and “diminish the guest experience of our brand.”
In its letter to the Committee on May 11, 2017, the Trump Organization wrote that it was “premature to respond at this time insofar as final determinations regarding these matters are dependent on many factors that will not be known to TTO [The Trump Organization] until after the close of this year.”
“Now that a year has passed since the President and his attorneys held their press conference, there is no longer any reason for the Trump Organization to continue defying our Committee’s request for documents and a briefing,” the Members wrote to Gowdy. “For these reasons, we respectfully request that you now issue a subpoena to compel the Trump Organization to produce, by January 20, 2018, all of the following documents, which were requested on a bipartisan basis more than eight months ago.”
Press accounts continue to reveal new examples of the President’s secretive financial activities. Yesterday, USA Today reported that “President Trump’s companies sold more than $35 million in real estate in 2017, mostly to secretive shell companies that obscure buyers’ identities, continuing a dramatic shift in his customers' behavior that began during the election.”
The Members concluded their letter to Gowdy by stating, “If you decline to issue this subpoena, then we respectfully request that you allow all Committee Members to vote on a motion for a subpoena at our next regularly scheduled business meeting.”
Click here to read today’s letter.