Forbes Magazine just proved that President Trump has violated the Constitution once again.
Trump promised that once he was inaugurated, he would donate to the U.S. Treasury all profits from foreign governments earned at his properties in an effort to avoid running afoul of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
That little-noticed provision of the country’s founding document prohibits the President from receiving gifts from any foreign state and is considered an impeachable offense if violated.
Now, Forbes has revealed that this particular promise has as much truth to it as any of his other campaign promises, in other words: none. Phil Ruffin is the co-owner with the President of the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas as part of a 50/50 joint venture.
Here’s what he told Forbes about the vow to donate profits to the treasury:
“I don’t know anything about that,” said Ruffin, sitting in his office inside the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, which he owns separately from the president. Is there a plan in place to hand over the profits at Trump’s Las Vegas property eventually? “They have to pay like everybody else,” Ruffin said. But if he did chop away the profits from foreign dignitaries, would that affect the value of the hotel? “They’re not going to do that,” Ruffin said, before repeating: “They’re not going to do that.”
When Forbes posed the same question to Eric Trump, whom his father has placed in charge of The Trump Organization while he’s busy ruining the country, he told the magazine that:
“We didn’t need to do it. It’s probably the right thing to do. We didn’t need to do it. But it’s something we are doing and will do. We’ll watch it closely.”
Those sketchy assurances will hardly reassure the legal and ethical watchdogs who are already suing Trump over his refusal to completely divest himself of his real estate empire. Officials from foreign governments have already told the press that they would curry favor with Trump by staying at his hotels.
One of the issues yet to be explained is what definition of profit will be used if the Trump Organization is forced to follow through on their promises. Given the high-priced accountants who finesse Trump’s hidden tax returns, it’s easy to imagine that profits can be easily offset with all sorts of expenses, whether they are legitimate or not. According to Forbes:
“The CPAs have to figure out how it works,” Eric Trump said, later adding that they have already implemented the plan.
Scott Amey, the general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight, says that he’s extremely disappointed that Trump has walked his vow back.
“It’s not what you expect in a normal course of business, for someone to say something and then decide not follow through. But it’s certainly not the type of ethical behavior that you would expect out of the president of the United States.”
Not until Trump became president anyway.
What do you think?
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.