Attorney, Sheri Dillon, who is advising Donald Trump on his conflicts of interest, blasted critics who claim that Trump would be violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause when he takes office.
“These people are wrong. This is not what the Constitution says, paying for a hotel is not a gift or present and has nothing to do with an office. It is not an Emolument,” she said.
The Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution specifically says, “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
Some legal experts believe if foreign leaders visit and choose to stay at one of Trump’s hotels like the one in Washington D.C., Trump benefits. Even if his children are running the show, money would still go to the President’s pockets. And while Trump may not be pushing foreign officials to stay at his hotel, a former Mexican ambassador has said that there will be a “temptation” for some to stay there just to tell Trump they’re at his hotel. The King of Bahrain has also decided to host a reception there. Therefore, these legal experts believe that scenarios like this could be in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
“The so-called emoluments clause has never been interpreted to apply to fair value exchanges that have absolutely nothing to do with an office holder. No one would have thought, when the Constitution was written, that paying your hotel bill was an emolument instead it would have been considered a value for value exchange… not a gift.. not a title, not an emolument,” Dillon said. However, Dillon added — that even though Trump doesn’t have to– he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury. Dillon says she hopes this will put to bed any concerns over this issue.
We will be updating this article with further comments from attorneys.
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
[image via CNN screengrab]