Washington, DC—As Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder released the following statement:
“Now that he has taken the oath of office, President Trump stands in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. He just swore on the Bible to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,’ but by continuing to accept payments from foreign governments, he has already failed. We do not yet know just to what extent this violation goes—because he is the first person elected to the presidency in decades to fail to clear the ethical bar of Richard Nixon and release his tax returns, much of his foreign business has remained secret. But we do know that there must be accountability for anyone, including the president, for violating the Constitution.”
In addition, after taking the oath of office, President Trump appears to be in violation of his lease on the Old Post Office—site of the Trump International Hotel, according to a complaint CREW filed today with the General Services Administration (GSA). The lease bars elected government officials from receiving “any share or part of [the Lease], or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” Trump owns more than three-quarters of Trump Old Post Office LLC, which holds the lease.
“The lease bans elected officials from benefitting to avoid conflicts of interest with their duties,” Bookbinder said. “We know Trump likes to renegotiate contracts for better deals. If that happened here, it will be the President negotiating against the government he leads. His best interests are not the same as those of the American tax payer.”
As GSA Deputy Commissioner Michael Gelber told Congress last month, this is a standard part of their contracts to “protect the interests of the American people.” If Trump’s company does not resolve this breach of contract, GSA should exercise its right to terminate the lease.
CREW also filed a suit against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for failing to turn over information about possible questionnaires from Trump’s transition team seeking names of those working on climate change, which we requested under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).
“We know that NOAA received our request, but have not heard anything since. The law is simple, they have to respond,” Bookbinder said. “If they have information about the Trump team’s search for climate scientists, Americans deserve to know; and if they don’t, a simple ‘no’ would suffice, but there’s no reason to withhold that information.”