Trump Scoffs at “Phony Emoluments Clause” While Complaining About G-7 Scandal

Yuri Gripas/Zuma

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

While defending his now-reversed decision to hold the G-7 Summit at his Doral resort, President Donald Trump scoffed at the section of the Constitution that prevents federal officeholders from receiving gifts from foreign governments.

“You people with this phony emoluments clause,” he said, during an interview at the White House Monday, before continuing with a different thought. “And by the way, I would say that it’s cost me anywhere from $2-to-5 billion to be president, and that’s OK, between what I lose and what I could have made.”

Last month, a federal appeals court dealt Trump a legal blow when it ruled that one of several lawsuits alleging that Trump is violating the emoluments clause can go forward. As we explained, the court noted that foreign officials have routinely spent money at the president’s properties:

When Trump took office, he refused to give up ownership or control of his business empire—which includes restaurants and hotels in New York City and Washington, D.C.—though he said he would no longer maintain day-to-day oversight. It’s an unprecedented situation: No other presidents, at least in recent history, have come to office with such an extensive business operation. Critics claimed that Trump was violating the emoluments clause—a section of the Constitution that prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments—because foreign officials almost immediately began spending at the president’s hotels in New York and Washington.

In December 2017, in one of the first big court cases dealing with the issue, a federal judge in New York threw out a suit brought by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a group of restauranteurs in New York. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ argument—that their businesses had suffered because foreign governments were instead patronizing Trump-owned establishments in hopes of currying favor with the president—was too speculative. But in a 2-1 decision Friday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the trial judge, stating that the plaintiffs had a right to attempt to prove their argument. The court noted that numerous foreign officials have said in the press that they booked events at Trump properties to make a good impression.

On Monday, Trump sought to defend his actions by comparing himself to George Washington. “Other presidents were wealthy,” he said. “George Washington was actually considered a very, very rich man at the time. But they ran their businesses.”

Watch the video below:

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate