May 8, 2019
Since President Trump’s first full day in office, CREW has been in litigation challenging Trump’s acceptance of payments from foreign and state governments as violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. These clauses bar the President from receiving any payments, salaries, offices, or titles from either foreign or American governments and officials, yet Trump continues to profit from visits to his properties by government officials. Because CREW’s emoluments litigation is unprecedented, CREW turned to archives of advice given to other presidents to better understand how the government has interpreted the clauses in the past.
CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request for documents from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and the Clinton Presidential Library. CREW requested any archives from the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s office about the application of the Foreign or Domestic Emoluments Clauses from each of the libraries.
Payments to Trump could be influencing foreign and domestic policy in direct violation of the Constitution. The requested documents will reveal important information about how government attorneys have interpreted and applied the clauses in previous administrations, enabling a more thorough evaluation of Trump’s compliance with the Constitution, and how his presidency may break with ethics norms of past presidents.