Trumping the Emoluments Clause?


“A President must not have two masters” is the rallying cry of 13 Democratic senators who are bringing a new fight to the doors of the White House. The reason for this new challenge was the February 14th Chineses Registration of construction services to Trump.

For more than 10 years Trump has been fighting with a Chinese man named Dong Wei for registration of a trademark for construction services. A trademark that many people consider was only attained because the Chinese Government is giving Trump special treatment, something that violates the emoluments clause of the US Constitution.

Trump Emoluments

The Emoluments Clause

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution is also known as the Emoluments Clause. The Clause 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.” The granting of a Trademark to Trump from a foreign country is the gray area that many people are questioning.

The Critics Take

Led by Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, a letter was penned and signed by 13 Senators. The letter says they intend to hold Trump accountable to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Another letter was sent to the Secretary of State, and complained about Trump getting special treatment from China, a violation of the Emoluments clause. It is hard to know the value of the trademark in question. However, after after 10 years of fighting for the trademark in the Chinese Patent Office, the perceived value is most likely in the hundreds of thousands.

Trump currently holds 77 registered trademarks in China, and has 49 pending. Many of the trademarks he currently holds will come up for renewal during his term in office. Considering the argument the democrats are making this could be a recurring theme that keeps popping up during the course of the next four to eight years.

Trumps Take

The chief legal officer for Trump has not commented recently on the recent developments or letters. However, it has been known previously that Trump has turned all of his business dealings over to his children and executives. Realistically, Trump has removed himself from the administration and management aspect of all of his businesses.

It is naive to assume that Trump won’t benefit from his businesses, even though he has removed himself from management of the businesses. If the businesses flourish, Trump will still benefit financially from them when he is no longer president.

Special favors being given does not always affect the decision making process. Trumps desire to do away with current trade agreements which may benefit China more than the United States, suggest that any special favors don’t seem to be affecting his stance.

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