Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley is demanding plaintiffs of three separate lawsuits filed against President Trump, who claim the president violated an obscure Constitutional provision known as the Emoluments Clause, should also consider investigating violations allegedly committed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, since the basis of their lawsuits also implicate the former presidential candidate. The clause prohibits any person holding office from receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments without the consent of Congress and the chairman says the overwhelming evidence against Clinton should be made part of the ongoing lawsuits, which he says are both "partisan and narrow."
The Republican senator from Iowa also urged members of Congress to work with his committee to determine "whether legislation may be necessary to force agencies to remedies when the Clause is violated" and provided a litany of evidence he suggests shows that joint tax returns filed by Hillary Clinton and her husband President Bill Clinton revealed millions of dollars in financial earnings from foreign governments and entities connected to foreign governments.
"The Office of Government Ethics has held in its advisory opinions that [employees who prepare joint tax returns with their spouses] would be considered to have derived financial or economic benefit from their spouses’ assets," Grassley wrote. "They would also be charged with knowledge of their spouses’ assets. Since Secretary Clinton filed joint tax returns with her husband, she received a direct financial and economic benefit from his income. Accordingly, based on the scope of the Clause outlined in your complaint, Secretary Clinton appears to have received emoluments that were not validated by congressional consent."
The chairman sent multiple letters to the plaintiffs this week, which include the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; a joint lawsuit by U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D- Michigan, and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who represent 191 members of Congress in their suit and the most recent lawsuit filed by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, both Democrats, who allege that Trump has not recused himself from his business dealings.
Racine and Frosh argued in their complaint against Trump that “because the Founders believed that corruption was one of the gravest threats to the new nation, they viewed anti-corruption measures as essential to preserving an enduring republican system of government.”
But Grassley said there were "multiple examples of potential corruption in the relationship between Clinton Foundation donors—both foreign and domestic—and the State Department during Secretary Clinton’s tenure. Specifically, in August 2016, I noted that foreign governments donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation while simultaneously lobbying the State Department."
“The Clause must be enforced impartially, without regard for power, privilege, or party," Grassley wrote. "Selective efforts to enforce the Clause smack of partisan political bias. A fair examination of Secretary Clinton’s financial benefits from foreign government entities and instrumentalities, by your reasoning, plainly shows that those benefits implicate the Clause. Yet your complaint[s] raised none of these concerns.”
Grassley argues that if Trump is investigated under the clause, then it must apply to Clinton as well, whose joint tax returns raise serious questions. For example, in June 2010, Hillary Clinton received $500,000 from "Renaissance Capital jointly with her husband for one of former President Clinton’s speeches in Moscow."
According to U.S. Officials who spoke with Circa, and as noted by Grassley in his letter, "Renaissance is a Russian investment bank whose senior officers include former FSB (Russian intelligence) personnel." As such, sources have described the Bank as an extension of the Russian government, as most all of the banks in Russia are controlled in some manner by the Kremlin."
During a Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a witness told committee members, Renaissance "trumpeted the fact that they had a number of former FSB officers on their staff. I should point out that there is no such thing as a former FSB officer. It is a lifetime commitment." The Russian Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, is one of the most powerful clandestine agencies in the world, similar to the United States CIA.
Examples of Clinton Joint tax returns reveal six-figure payments from foreign governments or entities, cited by Grassley
$175,000 from a city government in Canada
$500,000 from the Abu Dhabi Global Environment Data Initiative
$500,000 from a Russian government-aligned investment bank
$200,000 speech allegedly supported by the Chinese government
Other examples of donations from foreign governments to Clinton Foundation, cited by Grassley
* Qatar donated $1 million to the Clinton Foundation on Bill Clinton's birthday. While Clinton was secretary of state the nation was the recipient of approximately $4.3 billion - a 1,482 percent increase
* United Arab Emirates donated $1 million to the Foundation, and then saw approved military exports deals increase from $2.2 billion to $25 billion – a 1,005% increase.
*Saudi Arabia, Norway, and Australia each have donated $10 million, and received a 97% increase, 23% increase, and 198% increase, respectively.
Former George W. Bush ethic lawyer, Dr. Richard Painter and former Czech Republic Ambassador Norman L. Eisen, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution who served as Obama's ethics czar from from 2009 to 2011, claim in their Brookings Institution report that Trump is mired in conflicts due to his wide-ranging businesses dealings, Internal Revenue audits and overseas financial dealings.
"Trump owes several hundred million dollars to banks, but is now responsible for selecting the next Treasury Secretary and may influence interest rate policy," the pair said in the joint report, which is also co-authored by Laurence H. Tribe, a Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University.
"Indeed, apart from these concrete instances, the possibility of skewed incentives will haunt literally every interaction between the federal government and any Trump-associated business," the report states. "And given the sheer size of Mr. Trump’s empire, not to mention its track record of controversial conduct, that dynamic will play out in innumerable contexts."
When the lawsuit was filed by Painter and Eisen in January, President Trump said it was “totally without merit.”
What is the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
RELATED STORIES |