President Donald Trump, who declared “I don’t make money from China” in Thursday night’s presidential debate, has in fact collected millions of dollars from government-owned entities in China since he took office. Forbes estimates that at least $5.4 million has flowed into the president’s business from a lease agreement involving a state-owned bank in Trump Tower.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China signed a lease for space in 2008, years before the president took office, paying about $1.9 million in annual rent. Trump is well-aware of the deal. “I’ll show you the Industrial Bank of China,” he told three Forbes journalists touring Trump Tower in 2015. “I have the best tenants in the world in this building.”
Trump moved from the skyscraper to the White House in 2017, but he held onto ownership of the retail and office space in the building, through his 100% interest in an entity called Trump Tower Commercial LLC. That put him in an unusual position, given that government-owned entities in China hold at least 70% of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Suddenly, a routine real estate deal became a conduit for a foreign superpower to pay the president of the United States.
The arrangement posed legal concerns, since the U.S. Constitution prohibits federal officials from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state” without Congressional approval. Ethics experts, who have often focused on the president’s hotel in Washington, D.C., argued that the president would be in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause from the moment he took office.
Read the full profile on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2020/10/23/forbes-estimates-china-paid-trump-at-least-54-million-since-he-took-office-via-mysterious-trump-tower-lease/?sh=4f6beee9ed11
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