Foreign agents lobbying the federal government and Congress for Saudi Arabia just disclosed a $270,000 payment to Trump’s DC Hotel, which is still owned outright by the President. It’s illegal for any president to accept foreign payments under the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
President Trump knows that these payments are grounds for impeachment from office, but lied to the public and pledged that they’d all be donated to the US Treasury. As NBC reported last week, the Trump Hotels have absolutely no tracking system in place to measure foreign payments (which are still unconstitutional to accept), even though it’s not difficult to implement a customer code system for a hotel.
A conservative news media outlet unearthed the disclosure from Saudi Arabia’s agent Qorvis MSLgroup as part of an $8.4 million dollar campaign against JASTA, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (full document below):
The growing crisis in the Middle East between two American allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar makes the issue of favoritism and payments even more pressing as a government matter because America’s entire anti-ISIS effort, Coalition Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, is directed from the Qatari capital of Doha, which houses the Middle East’s largest US military base.
This is precisely the reason the Constitution forbids presidents from accepting any foreign emoluments (payments of any kind whatsoever), because it creates unseemly appearances that can have serious impacts on matters of state business.
Donald Trump is already being sued by at least three parties for violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, but unfortunately, none has approached a final judgment phase of trial yet. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington became the first group to sue, only three days after inauguration. One of New York’s most prominent hoteliers agreed to join CREW’s lawsuit in May to ensure they held legal standing, and proprietor Eric Goode says that he is worried about unjust retribution from the Trump regime or its surrogates:
“Hopefully I am not going to get audited and harassed for the next three years, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I’m worried about veiled forms of retribution.”
A pair of Washington, D.C. wine bar owners are also suing Trump over the same issue which they claim has unfairly impacted their business.
Saudi Arabia’s lobbying efforts failed, but they have retrenched by giving cash to the two Republican Senators who are the only members of Trump’s party even willing to provide mild oversight of our law-breaking president. The Saudi effort surfaced after multiple op-editorials were published opposing the effort and the filing turned up 75 payees including numerous PR firms in the $8.4 million dollar campaign.
The Daily Caller reports:
The mammoth Saudi lobbying effort on JASTA suggests it has pulled out all the stops to neuter the bill, which allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments who have sponsored terrorist attacks.
Though JASTA was passed into law in September after Congress overrode a veto by President Obama, Qorvis MSLGroup is pushing an amendment co-sponsored by Arizona Sen. John McCain (whose McCain Institute has received $1 million from the Saudis) and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham that would soften the language in the bill.
Republicans spent an entire presidential campaign complaining about Hillary Clinton’s oblique connection to Saudi Arabia – who paid for AIDS medication for the poor – but they’re now content to utterly ignore open bribes to the president because he’s in their own party.
President Trump for his part is too busy sword dancing with Saudi princes and soaking up their cash to care about the impact of his unbridled greed and corruption.
Now, America’s nominal allies in the Middle East are at each others’ throats and our military’s main base of operations in the region is caught squarely in the middle of the mess while our avaricious president pockets Saudi influence money as the spoils of war.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition