In case you forgot: Donald Trump never stopped violating the emoluments clause
Donald Trump may believe that it’s impossible for him to have a conflict of interest, but that doesn’t make those conflicts any less real. Or less profitable. And as Forbes points out, one of the biggest is also one of the most obvious.
Trump Tower officially lists the tenant as the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, but make no mistake who’s paying the rent: the Chinese government, which owns a majority of the company. And while the landlord is technically the Trump Organization, make no mistake who’s cashing those millions: the president of the United States, who has placed day-to-day management with his sons but retains 100% ownership.
That’s a $2 million a year pipeline from Donald’s buddy Xi Jinping directly into Trump’s pocket. It’s enough to vault any Entenmann’s thawed in the bowels of Mar-a-Lago into the ranks of the best cake ever. It’s also blatantly, and directly in violation of the Constitution.
It’s a conflict of interest unprecedented in American history. But hardly unanticipated. The Founding Fathers specifically built this contingency into the Constitution through the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits U.S. officials from accepting gifts, titles or “emoluments” from foreign governments.
Sure, foreign leaders may name-drop the Trump Hotel in D.C. and complement Trump on the horrible and overpriced cocktails, but even the biggest suite in the place isn’t welding that direct to the bank account conflict like Trump’s real estate rentals.
The real money in the Trump empire comes from commercial tenants like the Chinese bank. Forbes estimates these tenants pay a collective $175 million a year or so to the president. And they do so anonymously.
Real estate gets legal exceptions that no other industry enjoys—and Trump is enjoying them all.