US President Donald Trump is flirting with unparalleled violations of the Constitution by not divesting himself from a hotel management company that benefits financially from public pension fund investments, according to two Democratic US senators.
Reuters exclusively reported on April 26 that public pension funds in at least seven US states periodically send millions of dollars to an investment fund that owns the Trump SoHo Hotel and Condominium in New York City and pays one of Trump’s companies to run it, according to a Reuters review of public records.
The investments could put Trump at risk of violating an obscure constitutional clause that prohibits the president from receiving additional payments beyond his salary from state governments, say several constitutional lawyers. A separate constitutional clause bars the president from receiving payments from foreign governments.
The White House and the Trump Organisation did not respond to calls and emails asking for comment.
At a January news conference where Trump said he would turn over management of his companies to a trust controlled by his two elder sons, his lawyer, Sheri Dillon, announced that he would donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the US Treasury. Dillon said Trump was taking this step even though the Constitution did not require it.
Trump still earns revenue from the hotel management company and the other businesses in the Trump Organisation. Reuters asked five Republican lawmakers to comment on the public investments in the owner of the Trump-operated hotel, but none responded.
Trump is “setting an extremely dangerous precedent,” said Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut expressed similar concerns.