Despite vow, Trump Organization not
tracking all profits from foreign governments
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[May 25, 2017]
By Julia Harte
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump's businesses say it would be "impractical" to require customers
representing foreign nations to identify themselves, raising questions
about how Trump will fulfill a pledge to donate all profits from
overseas governments to the U.S. Treasury.
The umbrella Trump Organization sent a pamphlet to the general managers
at each hotel, golf course, social club, and winery owned or operated by
Trump, saying it would only donate profits from guests who declare they
represent foreign governments.
The pamphlet was sent to the House of Representatives Oversight and
Reform Committee in response to a request for information on how the
Trump Organization was fulfilling the pledge Trump made in January.
“Putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves
would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of
our brand," said the pamphlet.
The Trump Organization, Trump's lawyer, Sheri Dillon, and the White
House did not respond to requests for comment.
Dillon announced at a January press conference that Trump would
voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to
his properties to the Treasury.
Payments from foreign governments to businesses that profit Trump have
drawn criticism from constitutional and ethics experts who say they put
Trump in violation of the U.S. Constitution's ban on the president
receiving "emoluments" from foreign governments.
Emoluments are typically defined in this context as funds or gifts of
Seven Democratic lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee sent the
Republican president a letter on Wednesday asking for a detailed account
of "any benefits or rewards, financial or otherwise" he received from
foreign governments since he took office on Jan. 20.
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President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at the Leonardo da
Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Remo
The Kuwaiti and Azerbaijani governments have already hosted events
at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. In March, the
Government Accountability Office said it would check whether Trump
has made any payments to the U.S. Treasury from profits at his
The Trump Organization pamphlet identified other entities through
which foreign governments may operate, such as state-owned
aerospace, defense, banking, finance, healthcare, and energy
Those entities "may not be reasonably identifiable as foreign
government entities, and therefore may not be included in our
calculation of profit to be donated," the pamphlet read.
Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the congressional committee
that received the pamphlet, said in a response to the Trump
Organization that its method for identifying foreign government
payments was deficient.
Cummings said foreign powers would still be able to provide
unconstitutional emoluments to Trump through entities that are
funded and controlled but not openly affiliated with foreign
"Those payments would not be tracked in any way and would be hidden
from the American public," Cummings wrote.
(Reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Ross Colvin and Frances Kerry)
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