WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and a Member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a resolution Tuesday stating the sense of Congress that President-elect Trump should follow the precedent established by prior presidents and convert his assets to simple, conflict-free holdings, adopt blind trusts managed by an independent trustees, or take other equivalent measures in order to ensure compliance with the United States Constitution.
The resolution notes that in the absence of such actions by the President-elect before he assumes office or without specific authorization by Congress, Congress will regard dealings by Trump-owned companies with any entity owned by a foreign governmental actor as potential violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
“The American public has a right to know that the President of the United States is acting in their best interest, and not because he or she has received some benefit or gift from a foreign government like Russia or China or any other foreign governmental entity,” Senator Cardin said. “They need to know that the President of the United States is making decisions about potential trade agreements, sending troops into war, and where we spend America’s great resources based on what is in the public interest and not because it would advance the President’s private interests. This resolution is intended to send a clear message to the President-elect that there is ample time to take appropriate action and avoid any potential conflict with the Constitution.”
“Let us remember John Adams’ important words, ‘We are a government of laws, and not of men’,” Cardin added.
Joining Senator Cardin in introducing his resolution as original co-sponsors are Senators: Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); Harry Reid (D-Nev.); Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.); Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Tom Carper (D-Del.); Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); Tom Udall (D-N.M.); Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Al Franken (D-Minn.); Chris Coons (D-Del.); Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.); Chris Murphy (D-Conn.); Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii); Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.); Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Ed Markey (D-Mass.); and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Senator Cardin delivered a floor speech today on his resolution. The text can be viewed here and you can also access a downloadable video of his speech here.