House Republicans delay resolution to disclose Trump tax information

March 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Republicans delayed consideration of a privileged resolution offered by U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) on the House Floor today to request President Trump's tax return information. This tax information can determine whether the President is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

"The Emoluments Clause was included in the U.S. Constitution to avoid potentially corrupting foreign influences on federal officials," said Lofgren. "President Trump's refusal to extricate himself from his vast business network is deeply concerning, and Congress has a responsibility to hold the Executive Branch accountable and to the highest standard of transparence."

Lofgren's resolution marks the fifth time Democrats have introduced a privileged resolution on the floor about Trump's taxes. Each previous attempt was voted down by Republican majorities. Last week, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Democrats invited Richard Painter, former Bush appointee, to testify to the justification for Trump to release his taxes. Tomorrow, the Ways and Means Committee will consider H.RES. 186, a resolution of inquiry on President Trump's tax returns.

The full text of Lofgren's resolution is below:

RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the President shall immediately disclose his tax return information to Congress and the American people.

Whereas, the Emoluments Clause was included in the U.S. Constitution for the express purpose of preventing federal officials from accepting any "present, Emolument, Office, or Title…from any King, Prince, or foreign state";

Whereas in Federalist No. 22 (Alexander Hamilton) it is said "One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption" and;

Whereas the delegates to the Constitutional Convention specifically designed the Emoluments Clause as an antidote to potentially corrupting foreign practices of a kind that the Framers had observed during the period of the Confederation, and;

Whereas , Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution states: "no person holding any office of profit or trust … shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever, for any king, prince, or foreign state";

Whereas, in 2009, the Office of Legal Counsel clarified that corporations owned or controlled by foreign governments presumptively qualify as foreign States under the Foreign Emoluments Clause;

Whereas the word emoluments means profit, salary, fees or compensation which would include direct payment as well as other benefits including extension of credit, forgiveness of debt or the granting of rights of pecuniary value;

Whereas, according to the New Yorker, in 2012, the Trump Organization entered into a deal with Ziya Mammadov to build the Trump Tower Baku in the notoriously corrupt country, Azerbaijan, in possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and, by profiting from business with the Mammadov family, due to their financial entanglements with the Iran Revolutionary Guard may have also violated the Emoluments Clause if income from this project continues to flow to the Trump;

Whereas, the Trump organization has deals in Turkey, admitted by the President himself during a 2015 Brietbart interview, and when the President announced his travel Ban, Turkey's President called for President Trump's name to be removed from Trump Towers Istanbul, according to the Wall Street Journal, and President Trump's company is currently involved in a major licensing deal for that property which may implicate the Emoluments Clause;

Whereas, shortly after election, the President met with the former UK Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, to get help to stop obstructions of the view from one of his golf resorts in Scotland, according to the New York Times. Both of the golf resorts he owns there are promoted by Scotland's official tourism agency, a benefit that may violate the Emoluments Clause;

Whereas, at Trump Tower in New York, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is a large tenant, according to Bloomberg; the United Arab Emirates leases space, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority; and the Saudi Mission to the UN makes annual payments, according to the New York Daily News.  Money from these foreign countries goes to the President;

Whereas, according to NPR, in February China gave provisional approval for 38 new trademarks for the Trump Organization, which have been sought for a decade to no avail, until President Trump won the election.  This is a benefit the Chinese government gave to the President's businesses in possible violation of the Emoluments Clause;

Whereas, the President is part owner of a New York building carrying a $950 million loan, partially held by the Bank of China, according to the New York Times, when owing the government of China by the extension of loans and credits by a foreign state to an officer of the United States would violate the emoluments claus;

Whereas, NPR reported that, the Embassy of Kuwait held its 600 guest National Day celebration at Trump Hotel in Washington, DC last month, proceeds to Trump;

Whereas, according to the Washington Post, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. has hired a "director of diplomatic sales" to generate high-priced business among foreign leaders and diplomatic delegations;

Whereas, according to his 2016 candidate filing with the Federal Election Commission, the President has 564 financial positions in companies located in the United States and around the world;

Whereas, against the advice of ethics attorneys and the Office of Government Ethics, the President has refused to divest his ownership stake in his businesses;

Whereas, the director of the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics said that the President's plan to transfer his business holdings to a trust managed by family members is "meaningless" and "does not meet the standards that…every president in the past four decades has met";

Whereas, in the United States' system of checks and balances, Congress has a responsibility to hold the Executive Branch of government to the highest standard of transparency to ensure the public interest is placed first and the Constitution adhered to;

Whereas the House Judiciary Committee has the first responsibility among the Committees of the House to see that the elements of our Constitution are adhered to and in furtherance of that responsibility  Judiciary Committee Members have historically utilized  fact finding and research prior to formal hearings and;

Whereas, tax returns provide an important baseline disclosure because they contain highly instructive information including whether the filer paid taxes, what they own, what they have borrowed and from whom, whether they have made any charitable donations, and whether they have taken advantage of tax loopholes and that such information would be material to Members of the Judiciary Committee as research is undertaken on whether President Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution;

Whereas, disclosure of the President's tax returns would be an effective means for the President to provide evidence either refuting or confirming claims of violations of the Emoluments Clause;

Whereas the President's tax returns are likely to  be essential as Members of the Judiciary Committee work to research potential violations of the Emoluments Clause;

Whereas, the Chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee, Joint Committee on Taxation, and Senate Finance Committee have the authority to request the President's tax returns under Section 6103 of the tax code and this power is an essential tool in learning whether the President may be in violation of the Emoluments Clause;

Whereas questions involving Constitutional functions and the House's constitutionally granted powers have been recognized as valid questions of the privileges of the House.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives shall—

1.            Immediately request the tax return information of Donald J. Trump for tax years 2000 through 2015 for review by Congress, as part of a determination as to whether the President is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the