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Trump Org donates nearly $200k to cover foreign profits

By BERNARD CONDONFebruary 25, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s company said on Monday that it donated nearly $200,000 to the U.S. Treasury to make good on its promise two years ago to hand over profits from foreign governments using its properties.

The Trump Organization said a check for $191,538 sent to Treasury represents profits from embassy parties, hotel stays and other foreign government spending at its Washington hotel and other properties last year. The voluntary donation is up from $151,470 sent a year ago to cover the president’s first calendar year in office.

Trump announced the donation plan before his inauguration two years ago in response to criticism that in refusing to sell off his business, people would suspect his decisions in office would be influenced by spending at his properties and not necessarily reflect the public interest.

Since then, Kuwait, the Philippines and other foreign governments have thrown parties at his Washington hotel, and Trump has been sued by good-government groups and others alleging he is violating the emoluments clauses of the Constitution by opening his door to such business.

Those clauses ban presidents from accepting gifts or payments from foreign or domestic governments without permission from Congress.

The president’s adult sons running the business have bristled at the charge they are profiting off the presidency.

“Unlike any other luxury hospitality company, we do not market to or solicit foreign government business,” said Eric Trump, an executive vice president of the Trump Organization. “In fact, we go to great lengths to discourage foreign government patronage at our properties.”

The company did not respond to requests for detail on how it has discouraged foreign government spending.

In addition to Treasury donations, Trump agreed not to strike any foreign deals for his business while in office, and to hire an outside counsel to vet any domestic deals for possible conflicts of interest. The Trump Organization has said that it has made “tremendous sacrifices” by putting brakes on its business expansion.

Earlier this month, Eric Trump and his brother, Donald Jr., announced they were scrapping plans to roll out two new hotels chains in the U.S. due to intense media scrutiny and what it called a hostile political environment.

Donald Trump Jr. on Monday told Fox News that Manhattan federal prosecutors investigating the president’s inaugural committee and family business were engaging in “Stalinist” tactics, where if they “massage things enough,” a crime can be found.

The Treasury donations have been criticized by watchdog groups and Democrats as insufficient and shrouded in secrecy. They say the money doesn’t cover all of Trump’s properties, such as resorts, and its unclear how the company is calculating profits.

Trump is facing two lawsuits charging that he is violating the Constitution’s emoluments provisions. The president’s lawyers argue that the framers of the Constitution’s ban on foreign gifts and payments did not intend for it to include such ordinary business transactions as hotel stays.

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