Trump's Businesses Got $7.8 Million In Foreign Payments During His Presidency: Report

Trump’s obvious payday stands in stark contrast to the muddled corruption allegations that Republicans have lobbed at President Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump’s businesses received nearly $8 million in payments from foreign governments while Trump was president, according to new research by Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Unlike Republicans in their efforts to pin corruption on President Joe Biden, Democrats on the House oversight committee have receipts — more than 400 pages of them — that show payments to Trump’s businesses from foreign officials likely seeking to influence the U.S. government.

Trump refused to divest from his business empire when he became president, creating an opportunity for anyone hoping to win his favor to put money straight into his pocket by staying at his hotels.

“When he arrived in the White House, Trump was determined not only to keep this well-branded global corporate empire going but to seize a new and unprecedented opportunity to make it ever more lucrative for himself and his family,” the oversight committee’s Democratic staff, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), said in their report.

Democrats and nonpartisan ethics experts have long argued that Trump’s refusal to divest violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on presidents accepting gifts or “emoluments” from kings, princes or foreign states. Trump faced emoluments lawsuits, but the Supreme Court declared the cases moot after he left the White House in January 2021.

Meanwhile, since 2019, Democrats on the House oversight committee have sought records from Trump’s accounting firm reflecting his foreign income. After a federal court awarded access in 2022, Democrats said they’d found records reflecting more than $750,000 in payments from foreign officials at Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C. Despite a court order requiring more material to be turned over, Republicans quietly shut down document production last year as they launched their quest for dirt on Biden.

Using documents obtained by the court order, plus already-public records, Democrats tallied $7.8 million in foreign payments from 20 countries during Trump’s presidency. Most of the sum came from Chinese sources, including China’s embassy in the U.S. and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a state-owned enterprise that leased property at Trump Tower in New York. Democrats suggest in their report that the payments from ICBC could have affected the Trump administration’s decision not to sanction the bank for ties to North Korea in 2017.

Democrats stressed Thursday that their report was based on records from only two years of Trump’s time in the White House, and that the $7.8 million is likely an undercount of the full money Trump received from foreign governments.

“What we have is essentially the tip of the iceberg,” Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) told reporters. “So this $7.8 million is just a small window ― obviously a significant amount of money, but a small window ― into what is likely a fairly large sum of money and gifts.”

Though Democrats presented their report as a continuation of their investigation into Trump’s violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, it’s clearly intended as a rebuke of the impeachment inquiry against Biden. The House of Representatives could hold an impeachment vote sometime in the coming months.

Republicans have accused Biden of improperly benefiting from his son Hunter Biden’s business deals, through which the younger Biden received millions of dollars from foreign nationals in China and Ukraine during and after Joe Biden’s time as vice president. Republicans have said Joe Biden may have accepted foreign bribes through his son’s work.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) speaks to journalists on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 13.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) speaks to journalists on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 13.
Jemal Countess via Getty Images

The only problem with the allegations is that there’s not much proof. Republicans have sifted through years of Hunter Biden’s bank records without finding any significant cash flows to the president ― except for four $1,380 transfers that were apparently reimbursements for truck payments the president made on his son’s behalf in 2018. House oversight committee chair James Comer (R-Ky.) has nevertheless said that because Hunter Biden’s money came from foreign sources, the payments to his father were tainted, even if they were loan reimbursements.

As HuffPost has previously reported, the foreign payments that went directly to businesses controlled by Trump himself might be better examples of the kind of corruption Republicans are talking about.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leader of the impeachment inquiry against Biden and one of the former president’s top defenders in Congress, deflected a question last year about Trump’s conflict of interest by pointing out that the former president donated his pay back to the government.

“President Trump didn’t take a salary,” Jordan said. “President Trump did so many good things for the country, did more of what he said he would do as president than any president, certainly in my lifetime.”

Raskin on Thursday ridiculed the no-salary argument.

“You don’t get to choose to refuse your salary and then take money from foreign governments instead,” he said. “The founders were emphatic that the president of the United States be someone who gets his money not from foreign governments, but rather from Americans.”

As for the impeachment inquiry against Biden, Raskin called it a hopeless wild goose chase.

“They found nothing, and look what we’ve been able to determine when we finally were able to extract just two years of information,” Raskin said.

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