Lawmakers seek details from Trump group on foreign payments
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WASHINGTON — Leaders of a House investigations panel asked the Trump Organization on Friday for specifics on how it will donate its profits from foreign government payments to the U.S. Treasury.
Before taking office, President Donald Trump promised to donate profits from foreign governments paying for services at his hotels, including one near the White House. A lawyer representing Trump said the Trump Organization would turn the money over to the Treasury as part of a broad plan to address ethics concerns over Trump's global business ties.
However, Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said details about the donations remain unclear. The lawmakers cite news reports indicating that the Trump Organization has received payments from foreign government sources since the inauguration, including a reception in February hosted by Kuwait's ambassador to the U.S.
Chaffetz chairs the House Oversight Committee, while Cummings is the senior Democrat. They said in a letter Friday that they want to know how payments from foreign governments are identified, how profits are calculated, how they will be donated and whether Trump or his trust plans to claim the donations for tax deduction purposes.
The letter was addressed to Sheri Dillon, an attorney representing the Trump Organization, the president's global real estate, property management and business empire. Trump stepped down from the family company before taking office but still maintains financial ties to it.
Dillon did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter.
Chaffetz said earlier this week he will not seek re-election. He has faced some criticism for his leadership of the committee and his reluctance to investigate potential conflicts involving Trump. Chaffetz was booed at a town hall in February and grilled by constituents who chanted "Do your job!"
Some lawyers have claimed that foreign leaders who pay for rooms and services at Trump's hotels across the globe would put the president in violation of the "emoluments clause" of the U.S. Constitution. It bars U.S. officeholders from receiving gifts or presents from a foreign government without the consent of Congress.
Dillon has argued that "fair-value exchange," such as paying for a hotel room, does not run afoul of the ban.