Trump acceptance of favor from China likely violates Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause”

President Trump’s refusal to divest his business interests were certain to run into foul territory at some point, but I am not sure we expected such a clear illustration of the problem within the first month. But here we are.

On Wednesday, China’s government granted Trump a trademark that he had tried to get for 10 years — The government reversed 10 years of denials. The only things that have changed in those 10 years are that Trump is now U.S. president, and last week, he affirmed the “One China” policy after an initial stumble over it in January. His apparent reward, the trademark.

From ABC News:

Any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the Constitution, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said in an email. “A different conclusion might be reached if Trump had been treated like everyone else seeking a trademark, but the evidence does not point in that direction.”

Trump has turned day to day management of his business over to his sons, but he has refused to establish a “blind trust,” considered the gold standard to prevent any conflicts of interest. Instead, Trump created revocable trusts, meaning that he maintains ultimate authority and has a vested interest in the outcome. Essentially, he did the exact opposite of what a blind trust achieves.