House Panel To Probe Whether Foreign Policy Influenced By Trump Biz Concerns

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) speaks during a news conference discussing Russian sanctions on February 15, 2017. (Photo credit: ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 24, 2019 4:53 p.m.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will investigate whether Trump’s business interests are affecting his foreign policy decisions, committee chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) told CNN.

“I’m concerned about — we want to make sure that policies are being made based on what’s good for the United States and not what might be good for the president personally,” Engel told the network.

The probe will include whether Trump is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, a portion of the law that prohibits the president from accepting things of value from foreign governments.

“There are a lot of people who look at the Constitution and say that it’s being violated right now,” Engel said. Upon being asked whether he thought Trump was violating the Constitution, Engel replied: “I think we’ll find out soon. I think it’s a possibility, yeah.”

The Trump Administration has been hit with lawsuits since the first days of its existence alleging emoluments violations. One of the cases that’s gone the furthest – filed by the Maryland and DC attorneys general – is stalled at the appellate level pending the resolution to the ongoing government shutdown. Another ongoing case pits Democratic members of Congress who allege that they have been deprived of their right to review Trump’s acceptance of things of value from foreign states.

The president’s D.C. hotel has attracted the most scrutiny, with foreign diplomats reportedly targeting the venue to curry favor. The Saudi government owns a floor in one of Trump’s New York buildings, while a Chinese state-owned bank leases offices in Trump tower.

A spokesman for Engel did not immediately return a request for comment.

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