Donald Trump reaping millions from business transactions with foreign governments while serving as president warrants further investigation into his family’s dealings, a Democratic lawmaker argued on Friday.
Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” outlined what he called Trump and his family’s acceptance of “bribes” from foreign governments, which precipitated the bombshell report House Oversight Committee Democrats released Thursday.
Garcia told host Mika Brzezinski that the at least $7.8 million in payments from foreign governments and their controlled entities make up only a fraction of the “receipts” pointing to criminal activity the Democrats have collected, arguing that further investigation into the transactions is needed.
He also suggested that the total amount of the Trumps’ “grift” could be colossal given that the report only details two years’ worth of proceeds the Trumps received from only four properties among the former president’s massive business empire.
“This is an enormous grift, this is a violation of the Constitution, this is about foreign payments and bribes to the president of the U.S. from multiple foreign governments and countries,” the legislator said.
“I also just want to note because it’s important, what we have in front of us is really the tip of the iceberg,” he added. “The nearly $8 million that we’re discussing is essentially not only a two-year window, it is only from four properties owned by Donald Trump. Donald Trump has hundreds, hundreds of properties and businesses around the world, so we were very limited to what we could actually look at.”
House Democrats know the full breadth of the Trump family dealings are much larger, Garcia explained. But House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., brought the investigation to a screeching halt, he said.
“This is very, very concerning. We demand this investigation to continue and to reveal the full scope of this incredible grift,” Garcia said, emphasizing that they believe payments from other governments not mentioned in the report, like Russia, exist, but they don’t currently have receipts and records for them.
Comer led Republicans on the committee in probing President Joe Biden, accusing him of participating in illicit overseas business activity with his son, Hunter Biden. The investigation has failed to produce any evidence directly linking Biden to his family’s business dealings, and its witnesses have also negated allegations of a bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden.
Ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced an impeachment inquiry into Biden in September, and the House voted to formalize the impeachment investigation last month despite a slew of Republican representatives admitting that they don’t possess any evidence to impeach the president.
The Democrats’ 156-page report “shows where the real grift and corruption and illegal activity is. We have receipts. We have bank records. We have accounting. It’s all there laid out in the report, and there is much more that has yet to be uncovered,” Garcia said.
“It’s incredible to see the hypocrisy that the House Republicans, that James Comer, that the new speaker are trying to put together with this impeachment scam that they have put together, essentially to try to attack the Biden family,” he added.
Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade echoed some of Garcia’s comments, arguing that then-President Trump’s intake of millions of dollars makes him constitutionally “compromised” and makes clear that he should be disqualified from further office.
“The emoluments clause says that the president cannot receive any payments or gifts from a foreign source, unless he gets the consent of Congress,” McQuade said during a separate appearance on MSNBC. “Certainly, Donald Trump didn’t get any such consent; he didn’t ask for any such consent — so, he violated the Constitution.”
Even with the Oversight Democrats’ findings, McQuade said there is little chance of them prompting criminal prosecution years after Trump’s left office.
“There is not a criminal statute that makes it an offense for which it could be charged with a crime,” she said. “But if that information had come to light while he was in office, it would certainly be grounds for impeachment.”
The transactions, however, could be used to knock Trump’s campaign as the election year unfolds and he attempts to win the GOP primary and subsequently a second run in the Oval Office.
“It should be grounds that his opponents can use against him in the campaign that he’s unfit to serve as president because of this,” McQuade said.
“A really important point about government ethics: Some of this has been explained away by the Trump family as nonsense or, ‘This is just business. It doesn’t have anything to do with decisions being made by a president,'” she continued. “But government ethics are all about the appearance of the conflict of interest, so accepting money from a foreign source does demonstrate a compromise of a president’s situation.”
That compromise can spark questions about whether he treats countries with a lighter hand when they give him money, and treats countries more harshly when they don’t, McQuade added.
“Those are questions that the American public should not have to ask themselves,” she said.
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