Oct 21, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump: "You people with this phony emoluments clause"

In lengthy public comments at a Cabinet meeting on Monday, President Trump railed against media criticism of his decision — which he has since walked back — to hold next year's G7 summit at his Doral resort in Miami.

"I don't know if you know it — George Washington, he ran his business simultaneously while he was president. There weren't too many really rich presidents, but there were a few. They ran their business. Hey, Obama made a deal for a book. Is that running a business? I'm sure he didn't even discuss it while he was president. Yeah, yeah. He has a deal with Netflix. When did they start talking about that? That's only a couple of examples. ... I don't think you people with this phony emoluments clause — and by the way, I would say that it's cost me anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president. And that's OK.

Why it matters: Throughout his presidency, Trump has faced allegations that he and his family have abused the office of the presidency to enrich themselves. His G7 decision drew bipartisan scrutiny at a time when Trump needs Republicans in Congress to remain loyal as he weathers an impeachment inquiry.

Reality check: The emoluments clause of the Constitution is not "phony."

  • It states: "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."
  • In December, a federal appeals court in Virginia will hear an emoluments case brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia that alleges Trump has profited from the presidency with the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
  • Trump's claim on Monday that the presidency has cost him anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion is impossible to verify because he has not followed the modern presidential tradition of releasing his tax returns.

Go deeper: Mulvaney says Trump was "honestly surprised" at level of backlash over G7 decision

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