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Oversight Committee Requests Documents on Trump Organization’s Treatment of Foreign Government Payments

Apr 21, 2017
Press Release

Oversight Committee Requests Documents on Trump Organization’s Treatment of Foreign Government Payments

 

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 21, 2017)—Today, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to attorney Sheri A. Dillon requesting information about the implementation and timing of the Trump Organization’s announced plans to donate profits of foreign government payments to the U.S. Treasury. 

 

At a press conference in January, Dillon explained that President Trump would donate all profits from foreign payments to the U.S. Treasury. She stated the Trump Organization would hire an ethics officer and chief compliance officer to prevent Emoluments Clause violations and approve all new deals in writing.

 

In March, a Trump Organization spokesperson announced that the company had developed a policy to identify foreign government customers and donate profits by the end of the calendar year.

 

“Additional details of the plan to donate profits derived from foreign government payments, however, are still unclear,” the Members wrote. “Meanwhile, recent news accounts have reported that the Trump Organization may have received payments from foreign government sources since President Trump’s inauguration.”

 

The Committee requested documents and information to “better understand the mechanics of how this arrangement will be implemented,” including the process for identifying foreign payments; how the profits are calculated; how they are donated to the U.S. Treasury; how these details will be tracked and publicly reported; and whether the Trump Organization, President Trump, or his trust plans to claim donations to the U.S. Treasury as a gift for tax deduction purposes.

 

The Members also asked for documents showing which specific entities within the Trump Organization will be donating profits derived from foreign government sources.  The Members requested the information by May 12, 2017.

 

Click here and see below to read the letter.

 

 

April 21, 2017

 

Ms. Sheri A. Dillon

Partner

Morgan Lewis

1111 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004-2541

Dear Ms. Dillon:

 

            On January 11, 2017, then President-elect Trump held a press conference to announce plans relating to the administration of his business interests during his presidency.[1]  At that time, you announced a plan to address the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.  Specifically, you said:

 

The Constitution does not require President-elect Trump to do anything here.  But, just like with conflicts of interests, he wants to do more than what the Constitution requires.  So, President-elect Trump has decided, and we are announcing today, that he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury.[2]

 

            You also announced the Trump Organization would hire an ethics officer and a chief compliance officer to ensure the company does not receive special terms, payments or favors that could implicate the Emoluments Clause or otherwise create the appearance of a conflict of interest.[3]  You stated that “[n]o new foreign deals will be made whatsoever,” “[n]ew domestic deals will be allowed, but they will go through a vigorous vetting process,” and that the “written approval of the ethics adviser will be required for new deals, actions, and transactions that could potentially raise ethics or conflicts of interest concerns.”[4]  Two weeks later, the Trump Organization announced Bobby Burchfield and George Sorial would serve as the company’s ethics officer and chief compliance counsel, respectively.[5]      

 

            A Trump Organization spokesperson on March 17 announced that the company has developed a policy to identify foreign government customers and donate profits.[6]  The profits will be donated by the end of the calendar year.[7]

 

Additional details of the plan to donate profits derived from foreign government payments, however, are still unclear.  Meanwhile, recent news accounts have reported that the Trump Organization may have received payments from foreign government sources since President Trump’s inauguration.[8] 

 

            So the Committee can better understand the mechanics of how this arrangement will be implemented, and specifically the timing for submitting remuneration pursuant to the plan you announced on January 11, 2017, please provide the following documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than noon on May 12, 2017:

 

  1. All documents referring or relating to:

 

  1. the process by which payments from foreign governments or foreign government-owned entities are identified;

 

  1. the process or formula by which the profits from such payments are calculated;

 

  1. the manner in which those profits are donated to the U.S. Treasury;

 

  1. how details about the amount of profits identified and donated to the U.S. Treasury are tracked or publicly reported; and

 

  1. whether the Trump Organization, President Trump, or his trust plans to claim donations to the U.S. Treasury as a gift for tax deduction purposes.

 

  1. Documents showing which specific entities within the Trump Organization will be donating profits derived from foreign government sources.

 

In addition, please arrange to brief Committee staff on these issues after providing the documents to the Committee, no later than May 19, 2017.

 

When producing documents to the Committee, please deliver production sets to the Majority staff in Room 2157 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority staff in Room 2471 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The Committee prefers, if possible, to receive all documents in electronic format.  An attachment to this letter provides additional information about responding to the Committee’s request.  Please note that Committee Rule 16(b) requires counsel representing an individual or entity before the Committee or any of its subcommittees, whether in connection with a request, subpoena, or testimony, promptly submit the attached notice of appearance to the Committee.

 

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at “any time” investigate “any matter” as set forth in House Rule X. 

 

Please contact Jack Thorlin of the Majority staff at (202) 225-5074, or Krista Boyd with the Minority staff at (202) 225-9493, with any questions about this request.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,       

 

 

______________________________                                    ______________________________

Jason Chaffetz                                                                        Elijah E. Cummings

Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member

 

 

Enclosures

 


 

 

[1] Press conference with President-elect Donald Trump, Sheri A. Dillon, N.Y. Times (Jan. 11, 2017).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Fredreka Schouten, Trump Organization names ethics overseers, USA Today, Jan. 25, 2017.

[6] Steve Reilly, Trump hasn’t donated hotel profits from foreign governments yet, USA Today, Mar. 13, 2017.

[7] Id.

[8] See, e.g., Julia Harte, Kuwait Could Pay up to $60,000 for Party at Trump Hotel in Washington, Reuters, Feb. 25, 2017.

115th Congress