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Democrats press Trump Organization about president's Chinese bank account

Democrats press Trump Organization about president's Chinese bank account
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Three top Senate Democrats on Wednesday pressed the Trump Organization for information about a Chinese bank account maintained by the president, saying there's a national security need to learn more about his business interests.

In a letter to Alan Garten, executive vice president and chief legal officer of the Trump Organization, the senators said it's important to understand how Trump's financial dealings could be influencing foreign policy actions and trade negotiations with China.

"In light of the President’s refusal to release his tax returns and divest from his financial holdings, it is imperative that Congress have a full understanding of any potential financial conflicts of interest that the President has, especially with China, one of the nation’s most important economic competitors and strategic adversaries," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNew York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn Biden congratulates Pelosi on Speaker nomination Senate Democrats introduce bill to shore up PPE supply MORE (N.Y.), Senate Finance Committee ranking member Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans The FCC is trying to govern content moderation: It doesn't have the authority MORE (Ore.) and Senate Banking Committee ranking member Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (Ohio) wrote.

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The New York Times reported last week that Trump's tax records show he has a bank account in China. The account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, an entity that paid $188,561 in taxes in China from 2013 to 2015. It's unclear how much money has passed through the account and at what bank the account is located, according to the Times.

The newspaper also reported that Trump International Hotels Management had a significant increase in revenue in 2017, accompanied by a large withdrawal from the company's capital account. The senators said in their letter that the sources of the funds were unclear, where they were generated and how they were spent.

"While it is unclear how much of Trump International Hotels’ income and financial activity is linked to China, it appears that entity has been involved in management of other Trump branded properties around the world and has generated millions of dollars of income during the President’s term in office," the senators wrote.

Schumer, Wyden and Brown asked the Trump Organization for information about the financial institution where Trump maintains the Chinese bank account, transactions involving the account and the 2017 revenue increase for Trump International Hotels Management. The senators also requested information about any other foreign bank accounts listed on Trump's tax returns between 2013 and 2020.

The senators are seeking a response by Nov. 11 — a little more than a week after Election Day.

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Garten previously told the Times that the Trump Organization opened the Chinese bank account in order to pay taxes associated with efforts to do business in the country. He said the company opened the account after setting up a Chinese office in order to look into the possibility of doing hotel deals in Asia.

“No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialized and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive,” Garten said. “Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose.”

Garten also said that a significant portion of Trump International Hotels Management's revenue in 2017 related to the buyout of a management contract for a New York hotel, and that the rest of the money was unrelated to China.

The Hill has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment on the letter from senators.

In a separate letter Wednesday, the Democratic chairs of several House committees and subcommittees asked inspectors general for the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to review whether a counterintelligence investigation concerning Trump's foreign financial ties was ever opened, and if so, whether the investigation had been curtailed or closed.

"There is substantial evidence of ties between President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE’s campaign, private business interests, and foreign powers that further support the need for a counterintelligence investigation of the President’s finances," the lawmakers wrote, citing the Times article on the Chinese bank account as one such piece of evidence.

Updated at 3:37 p.m.