The Trump Organization wrote a check to the U.S. Treasury last month for $151,470, an amount it said represented all profits from “foreign government patronage” to its hotels in 2017. Though the company announced the donation in February, the amount wasn’t known until dailymail.com reported it Friday.
The donation fulfills a promise made last year to allay concerns about Trump’s continued ownership stake in his company. By refusing to divest from the Trump Organization, he was at risk of violating the Constitution’s “foreign emoluments clause,” critics said, citing the ban on federal officials accepting money from foreign governments.
“Our donation to the Treasury was voluntary and one that I am very proud of,” Eric Trump, who is running the family company with his brother Don Jr., told DailyMail.com. “Although we are not legally obligated to do this, we have pledged to account for all profits from foreign government business at our hotels and clubs and have donated that money back to the United States of America.”
Apart from the amount donated, the Trump Organization has revealed little else about the profits from foreign governments. For instance, it’s not known which governments the money came from, or who paid how much.
However, separate media reports have assigned totals to some events held in Trump hotels. One event, held last year by Kuwait’s government at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., could have cost as much as $60,000, Reuters reported at the time. Other foreign government groups to hold events at the D.C. hotel include the Turkey-U. S. Business Council, the American Turkish Council, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Eric Trump told dailymail.com that the hassle of holding these events, which result in no profit for the company, has the Trump Organization avoiding business with foreign governments whenever possible.
But critics say the damage is already done. “With this announcement, President Trump’s businesses seem to confirm that they accepted payments from foreign governments in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause,” Rob Marus, a spokesman for the District of Columbia attorney general, said last week. The D.C. attorney general is one of several suing Trump over potential emoluments clause violations. “Whether the Trump Organization donated the proceeds from those foreign emoluments is irrelevant to our case,” Marus added.