Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Denounces the Trump Organization’s Decision to Rent 500 Hotel Rooms to Saudi Arabia Following the Inauguration and Urges Oversight hearings on possible Violations of the Emoluments Clause

Dec 7, 2018
Press Release

PRESS STATEMENT HEADER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Contact: Robin K. Chand

December 6, 2018                                                                              202-225-3816

Press Statement

 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Denounces the Trump Organization’s Decision to Rent 500 Hotel Rooms to Saudi Arabia Following the Inauguration and Urges Oversight hearings on possible Violations of the Emoluments Clause

 

Jackson Lee: “However, in light of yesterday’s story in the Post, the more likely explanation for Trump’s obsequiousness to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and his deference to its crown prince, is that he and his family have significant, undisclosed financial interests with the Kingdom.  Thus, it appears that the foreign policy of the United States is being improperly influenced by the personal financial interests of the president.  We will be certain, of course, when the President is forced to release his tax returns and the American people can see—for themselves—that the President’s interests and motivations appear to be improperly influenced by his own pecuniary interests.  To protect the nation against this type of betrayal, is precisely why the Framers included the Emoluments Clause in our Constitution.”

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, released this statement following a report in the Washington Post indicating that following Trump’s election, a lobbyist for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia booked 500 rooms at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.:

 

“Yesterday the Washington Post reported that shortly after Election Night 2016, and it was apparent that Donald Trump had secured a majority of votes in the Electoral College, lobbyists working for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) had reserved 500 hotel rooms in the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington D.C., changing reservations from a non-Trump owned property.  This follows other reports that the KSA has been increasing occupancy at properties also owned by the President, in Chicago and New York.  Furthermore, it appears that lobbyists secured rooms on behalf of a veterans group.  If true, this represents a rather cynical attempt to cloak the Trump Organization’s questionable business activity by using a veterans group to distract from this unseemly—and possibly illegal—act.  But, then again, nothing more can be expected from a man who, thus far during his almost 23 months as President, has failed to visit troops while they are serving overseas.  If true, and given the headlines of the last two months, this represents a serious concern that merits investigation for many reasons.

 

“In October 2018, an American national and columnist for the Washington Post who was critical of KSA, Jamal Khashoggi, walked into the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, and never was seen alive again.  American intelligence agencies assessed with high confidence that Mr. Khashoggi was dismembered, and his body parts disintegrated after they were placed in acid.  In the face of this intelligence assessment, the Kingdom has steadfastly denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, and it has also sought to deny the role played by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).  Moreover, to add insult to injury, the President has yet again doubted the assessment of our intelligence communities with glibness, simply dismissing MBS’s and KSA’s role as unproven and ultimately immaterial, because the KSA is purchaser of military equipment from the United States and to criticize Mr. Khashoggi’s murderers would be detrimental to the financial health of the United States.

 

“However, in light of yesterday’s story in the Post, the more likely explanation for Trump’s obsequiousness to the KSA, and his deference to MBS, is that he and his family have significant, undisclosed financial interests with the Kingdom.  Thus, it appears that the foreign policy of the United States is being improperly influenced by the personal financial interests of the president.  We will be certain, of course, when the President is forced to release his tax returns and the American people can see—for themselves—that the President’s interests and motivations appear to be improperly influenced by his own pecuniary interests.  To protect the nation against this type of betrayal, is precisely why the Framers included the Emoluments Clause in our Constitution.

 

“While the President may try to stonewall legitimate requests to inspect his tax returns as a means of conducting oversight, Democrats are poised to fill the vacuum left by GOP inaction and determine how and why the foreign policy of the United States is being influenced by these factors.  During the weeks and months leading up to the November 2018 elections, Democrats pledged to clean up corruption and make Washington work for everyday Americans.  When the current occupant of the White House looks the other way on the premediated murder of an American national, Congressional oversight is required to determine the reasons for this betrayal of American values.  So Americans can rest assured that when the 116th Congress begins, Democrats will conduct oversight on this and other matters.  As Justice Brandeis observed, ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ 

 

Additionally, Americans can also rest assured that while the President is currently trampling over our traditions and undermining our institutions, our federal government’s other branches are filling the void.  The President’s apparent violations of the Emoluments Clause are currently the subject of two active lawsuits in our federal courts.   A judge in one of those lawsuits has recently permitted discovery to proceed, so that we may learn the sources of the President’s possible conflicts of interest.  This may explain why China’s recent transgressions into the South China Sea have been unmet by an American response at the same time it has approved trademarks for the President’s daughter; or, why the President continues to publicly deny the Intelligence Community’s unanimous assessment that Russia conspired to interfere with the 2016 election. 

 

“The time has come for the American people to learn more about what motivates this individual who lost the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes and whose public statements invite skepticism about his true allegiance(s).  Fortunately for all Americans who share these concerns, the 116th Congress will provide some relief from two years of unchecked behavior and confounding actions.  A better deal awaits.”

 

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Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary and Homeland Security and is a Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.