Obama ethics chief accuses Trump of violating emoluments clause: ‘See you in court Mr. Trump’

Greg Nash

Norm Eisen, the top ethics official under former President Obama, is accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

Eisen on Monday tweeted in response to a recent report that a major development project linked to Trump in Indonesia is expected to be supported by $500 million from the Chinese government.

“This is a violation of the Emoluments Clause,” Eisen tweeted. “A big one. See you in court Mr. Trump.”

The South China Morning Post reported that $500 million in Chinese government loans will support construction of MNC Lido City, a billion-dollar resort and theme park project that will feature Trump-branded hotels and a golf course.

Richard Painter, former President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, also told the South China Morning Post that the project could violate the emoluments clause and said he “would have advised” Trump to sell his holdings in the project.

Trump’s involvement in the project was solidified in 2015, according to the paper.

Trump announced in a tweet over the weekend that surprised many in Washington that he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to boost Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, which was under a U.S. import ban for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The report also comes after several weeks of back-and-forth on tariffs between the U.S. and China.

Trump is already facing two lawsuits, both as the president and as an individual, for allegedly violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bans elected officials from financially benefitting from foreign governments.

A federal judge in December dismissed another emoluments clause lawsuit against Trump that was brought by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Trump has retained ownership of his company, though he handed control over to his two sons.

Critics and ethics watchdogs say Trump is violating the clause whenever foreign governments make use of his hotels or golf courses. Trump has asked a federal judge to dismiss one of the lawsuits.

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