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Engel & Castro Push State Department for Answers on Payments to Trump Properties

ENGEL & CASTRO PUSH STATE DEPARTMENT FOR ANSWERS ON PAYMENTS TO TRUMP PROPERTIES

Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Joaquin Castro, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, today pushed the State Department to provide the Committee with information about the spending of taxpayer dollars at Trump properties. In a letter to Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, the lawmakers reiterated their deep concern that government resources are being channeled into President Trump’s private businesses in violation of the emoluments clause and demanded that the Department provide the requested information to the Committee without any further delay.

Chairmen Engel and Castro wrote, “Based on the information we received, we have questions regarding whether and how the State Department’s resources are being appropriately spent and whether Department officials are ensuring that such payments comply with Department regulations and constitutional prohibitions against the President personally profiting from his office.”

The letter to Under Secretary Bulatao follows a July 22, 2019 letter from Chairman Engel raising concerns about the President receiving payments of taxpayer dollars through his businesses.

“In response to the Committee’s request, the Department provided the Committee with less than fifty documents pertaining to spending at Trump properties in connection with State Department travel. Many of these documents are undated or lack context. We request a status update on the Department’s efforts to search for and produce documents responsive to the July 22 letter, and whether and when we can expect additional productions,” wrote Engel and Castro.

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

 

The Honorable Brian Bulatao         

Undersecretary of State for Management

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20037

 

Dear Mr. Bulatao:

 

We write to follow-up on Chairman Engel’s July 22, 2019 letter that expressed concern regarding reports that the State Department has spent tens of thousands of U.S. taxpayer dollars in payments to businesses owned by the Trump Organization, in possible violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.   Based on the information we received, we have questions regarding whether and how the State Department’s resources are being appropriately spent and whether Department officials are ensuring that such payments comply with Department regulations and constitutional prohibitions against the President personally profiting from his office.

In response to the Committee’s request, the Department provided the Committee with less than fifty documents pertaining to spending at Trump properties in connection with State Department travel.  Many of these documents are undated or lack context.  We request a status update on the Department’s efforts to search for and produce documents responsive to the July 22 letter, and whether and when we can expect additional productions.

Moreover, we have recently come into possession of additional documents that were not produced to the Committee in the Department’s response to the July 22, 2019 letter, though these documents seem plainly covered by that request.  We have since furnished these additional documents to the Department and reiterate our request for an explanation of what they indicate, as well as when and by whom they were compiled.

In order to address these questions so that the Committee may conduct its oversight of Department expenditures, including whether any legislative changes are necessary to prevent the Department from violating the Constitution, we request a briefing by staff from the Bureau of Budget and Planning at your earliest convenience to discuss the matters we have raised here.  Please have your staff reach out to the majority staff of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at 202-225-5021 or HFAC_Majority_Oversight@mail.house.gov by Monday, March 2, 2020 to schedule this briefing.

I thank you for your prompt response.

 

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL                                                       

Chairman

Committee on Foreign Affairs

 

JOAQUIN CASTRO

Chairman

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations