July 02, 2020

Udall, Leahy Lead Amendment Requiring Trump Organization Disclose Income and Licensing Agreements for Its Foreign Properties

As former Trump administration officials go public with highly disturbing reports of the president’s interaction with foreign leaders, Congress and public deserve transparency on president’s foreign business arrangements to evaluate foreign policy conflicts of interest

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) are leading a new proposed amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require President Trump and the Trump Organization to disclose full financial information, including the total income earned by the Trump Organization from any licensing agreements, for foreign properties owned by President Trump’s family business.

In addition to Udall and Leahy, the amendment is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) 

President Trump is in the unprecedented situation of serving as president while refusing to divest of his massive financial stakes in various foreign properties and enterprises owned by himself and his family, some of whom serve in senior policy-making roles in the White House.  This creates an undeniable appearance of conflict of interest that has frequently raised questions of whether President Trump’s personal and family financial arrangements influence the president’s policies and actions when conducting foreign policy on behalf of the American people. With numerous former senior administration officials coming forward with highly disturbing reports of the president’s interactions with foreign leaders, it is especially critical at this time for the public to have full transparency and accountability about the president’s foreign business interests.  

“The American people need to have the confidence that the president of the United States is making foreign policy decisions based on their interests, not his own personal financial interests,” Udall said. “The president’s former National Security Adviser has publicly alleged that President Trump has promised foreign leaders like Turkish President Erdogan illegal favors and reportedly believes that the president’s personal business interests drive his foreign policy. And those fears are apparently shared by officials from former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The president’s refusal to divest from his foreign business deals and rejection of public transparency is intolerable in our system of government. This amendment represents a baseline level of transparency so that Congress and the American people can make informed judgments about whose interests the president is serving his oath or his own bottom line.”

“This amendment seeks to preserve the Founders’ vision of a president dedicated solely to pursuing the national interest – not their personal interests,” Leahy said. “President Trump retains vast and largely unknown financial stakes in properties and enterprises abroad. Congress and the American people deserve to know whether his personal financial interests in foreign countries impact his foreign policy decisions on behalf of the American people. Indeed our national security compels such transparency, which this amendment provides.”  

The text of the Udall-Leahy amendment can be found here.

Summary of the Udall-Leahy Amendment:

- Transparency: The amendment increases transparency into foreign property owned by President Trump, specifically, the amendment would require President Trump to disclose all beneficial ownership in his properties, to Congress and the broader public. This disclosure will allow for a better understanding of President Trump and the Trump Organization’s relationships and financial interests abroad.

- Promotes the Rule of Law: The amendment requires President Trump and the Trump Organization to disclose financial information, including the total income earned by the Trump Organization from any licensing agreements for foreign properties. This disclosure would help promote the rule of law in accordance with the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits federal officers from accepting foreign emoluments without congressional consent.

- Allows for More Oversight: The amendment mandates disclosure of the total income earned by the Trump Organization from any licensing agreements for foreign properties. This would allow for Congress and the broader public to learn of direct conflicts of financial interest from which President Trump and the Trump Organization directly benefit.