The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee accused President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE on Wednesday of violating one of the Constitution's key anti-corruption clauses and trying to sidestep congressional oversight.
Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Michigan redistricting spat exposes competing interests in Democratic coalition Detroit voters back committee to study reparations MORE (D-Mich.) wrote in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press that Trump's business interests, particularly his Washington, D.C., hotel, flout the Constitution's Foreign Emoluments Clause barring presidents from accepting "any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state" without congressional approval.
"President Trump’s actions demonstrate that he has no plans to voluntarily submit to Congressional approval of his financial benefits derived from foreign governments," Conyers wrote.
"By failing to do this, the President violates one of the Constitution’s most critical anti-corruption commands, and deprives Congress of its constitutionally assigned role in assessing what financial benefits from foreign states the president may accept."
Trump has faced a flurry of criticism since taking office in January over his refusal to fully divest from his business empire.
While he handed control of his real estate business, the Trump Organization, over to his two elder sons, ethics experts have argued that the move falls short of what should be done to remove possible conflicts.
Conyers and nearly 200 other Democratic lawmakers filed a lawsuit against Trump in June, alleging that he has accepted foreign payments without seeking congressional consent. In doing so, the lawsuit argues, Trump is depriving Congress of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities.
One particularly controversial issue for Trump is the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which Conyers says "actively courts foreign diplomats, some of whom have hosted events or stayed at his hotel since the Inauguration."
Trump's tax attorney, Sheri Dillon, said at a news conference in January, shortly before Trump took office, that the Trump Organization would donate all hotel profits made from foreign governments to the Treasury Department.
But the Trump Organization said in a pamphlet in May that identifying foreign government officials would be "impractical" and that asking guests to identify themselves as such would "impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand."