House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that he is directing his panel’s staff to warn foreign governments against spending money at President Trump’s businesses, arguing it violates the Constitution.
In a memo dated Monday, Engel instructed Democratic committee staff who meet with foreign officials to warn that spending money at Trump-owned properties may be a violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which states that presidents cannot accept money or gifts from foreign governments without consent from Congress.
“When meeting with officials from a foreign government, please inform them that by providing any form of payment or benefit to a Trump-owned property their government is facilitating the president’s apparent violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause,” Engel’s memo states. “Please urge those foreign officials to transmit to their governments that the House Foreign Affairs Committee requests that they cease and desist payments to the Trump Organization unless and until Congress approves the emolument, as provided in the Constitution.”
Trump has retained ownership of his businesses but handed off day-to-day operations to his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, since becoming president.
Engel’s directive comes as a lawsuit brought by House Democrats arguing that Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause is making its way through the courts. A federal appeals court last month rejected a Justice Department request to dismiss the lawsuit.
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