The House Foreign Affairs Committee is ramping up its as-of-yet discreet investigation of President Trump’s potential violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, demanding on Tuesday that the State Department provide records about its spending at Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland.
Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY) asked the State Department to provide the panel with correspondence with Trump-owned entities, billing records and invoices, reimbursement forms, and records relating to whether a “dedicated Department credit card” has been used at any Trump-owned entity.
“I am concerned over multiple reports that the State Department has been spending tens of thousands of U.S. taxpayer dollars that end up in the pocket of President Trump, in possible violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” the letter reads.
The domestic emoluments clause forbids the president from receiving additional compensation from the state or federal government beyond the salary set by Congress.
Engel’s investigation appears to be focused on whether State Department payments to Trump-owned businesses constitute an illegal receipt of domestic emoluments.
Federal lawsuits in D.C. and Maryland have challenged Trump’s continued ownership of his businesses as potential emoluments violations, but courts have looked skeptically upon the arguments. One recent decision suggested that it is Congress’s role to enforce the clauses.
Engel cited several examples in the letter of Trump’s businesses appearing to overcharge the State Department for services, including one July 2019 instance where State reportedly paid Trump’s Scottish resort 11,000 pounds for advance summer bookings.
“While the specific purpose for securing these rooms is unclear, reporting indicates that President Trump’s son Eric is a regular at the resort – raising questions about whether any of the questionable payments may in fact be supporting the President’s family business, as opposed to Administration travel,” Engel wrote.
The State Department has a deadline of Aug. 2 to provide the documents.
Read the letter here: