President Trump’s blurred lines between his political and business careers have created numerous concerns on Capitol Hill and across the country. Now, a new lawsuit backed by 200 Congressional Democrats is focused on not only on foreign payments to the Trump Organization, but also on his tax returns, which could contain valuable information about where Trump’s money comes from overseas.
On previous occasions, such lawsuit attempts have been struck down by the Justice Department on the grounds that the emoluments clause of the constitution doesn’t apply to standard income like that which the Trump Organization generates off hotels, golf courses, resorts, and other real estate holdings. However, the Guardian points out that not only did President Trump not divest himself of the Trump Organization as promised, the company has continued to generate income from significant foreign players in ways that could be problematic.
For example, patents in China and lobbying fees in Saudi Arabia have been filed and earned since the inauguration, even as President Trump wades into relationships with each country that would be politically complex even without the added detail of his personal financial interests. Since President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, China suddenly stands to have greater worldwide environmental influence and has been testing its clout on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea, too.
At the same time, the Trump brand is hugely popular in China, and he’s had to battle for his trademarks there before. Eyebrows were raised in March when China swiftly granted almost 40 new patents for everything from the Trump Organization’s typical luxury offerings like spas, golf clubs, and hotels to private bodyguard and escort services.
The Associated Press spoke to a Beijing law firm that has worked with the Trump Organization, and they said the patents were filed defensively. Whether or not the Trump Organization was simply trying to protect its brand and prevent other entities from horning in on its niche, it’s all made more complicated by the association between the President of the United States and his eponymous holdings.