NEW YORK: Former US president Donald Trump’s businesses received at least $7.8 million from foreign governments, including China, during his time in the White House, a congressional report claimed just a day before the anniversary of the deadly January 6 US Capitol attack.

Officials from Saudi Arabia, India, Turkiye and Democratic Republic of Congo were among some 20 countries’ representatives who paid money to Trump’s hotel and real estate businesses during his presidency, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee wrote in their report.

The authors said that such revenues from overseas governments violated a constitutional ban on “foreign emoluments”.

“As President, Donald Trump accepted more than $7.8 million in payments from foreign states and their leaders, including some of the world’s most unsavory regimes,” said the report titled “White House for Sale”.

“We know about only some of the payments that passed into former President Trump’s hands during just two years of his presidency from just 20 of the more than 190 nations in the world through just four of his more than 500 businesses.”

‘Prohibited emoluments’

Regarding China, the report alleged that Beijing as well as businesses including ICBC bank and Hainan Airlines spent $5.5 million at Trump-owned properties.

“Former President Trump violated the Constitution when the businesses he owned accepted these emoluments paid by (Beijing) without the consent of Congress,” the report said.

The authors say that the full amount could be higher as the $5.5m figure is based only on limited disclosures from Trump’s accountants Mazars and filings with the American financial regulator, the SEC.

In one expenditure dated August 27, 2017, a Chinese embassy delegation spent $19,391 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

The report also claims, “Saudi Arabia paid at least $615,422 in prohibited emoluments to former president Trump’s businesses over the course of his term in office from just (the Trump World Tower) and the March 2018 stay at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.”

“Former President Trump has also boasted about the continued willingness of the Saudis to do business on terms highly favorable to him,” the report stated.

Trump’s Washington hotel was sold in 2022 to a private investor group and rebranded under the luxury Waldorf Astoria line.

The frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Trump separately faces a civil fraud trial in New York over claims that his real estate businesses fraudulently inflated the value of their assets.

He is to go on trial in Washington in March for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and in Florida in May on charges of mishandling top secret government documents.

The twice-impeached former president also faces racketeering charges in Georgia for allegedly conspiring to upend the election results in the southern state after his 2020 defeat by Democrat Joe Biden.

Asked about the report at a regular press conference, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “I don’t have any information on that. I advise relevant US politicians not to attack China at every turn.”

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2024

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