Fact Check: Is Trump Breaching the Emoluments Clause?

Fact Check: Is Trump Breaching the Emoluments Clause?
Aerial View of Trump National Doral Golf Club

Until about a week ago, chances are you’d never heard of the Emoluments Clause. Don’t feel bad about that; pretty much nobody else had ever heard of it either, because since it was written into the Constitution it’s never been used or tested by the Supreme Court. It’s an archaic little piece of law, a relic from the days of expensive gifts between kings and emperors — or it was, anyway. Now President Trump is being accused of breaching it. Has our chief executive really fallen foul of a law written to prevent Ben Franklin from being bribed with jeweled snuff boxes?


  • Although the Emoluments Clause only became big news recently, it’s actually the key element in a lawsuit that’s been running since January. Back then a Liberal pressure group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed suit against the president to stop companies he owns from taking payments from foreign governments.
  • The group argues that these payments are illegal under the Emoluments Clause, formally known as the Title of Nobility Clause — it’s Clause 8 of Section 9, Article I of the United States Constitution.
  • Confused by the name? It was mostly written to prevent a British-style aristocracy being introduced in the US. In full, it reads

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, 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.”

  • Obviously nobody’s worried that the president is going to have himself installed as the 1st Duke of New York. The basis for the lawsuit is the second sub-clause, prohibiting anyone in public office from accepting any “present or emolument.”
  • What’s being disputed is whether or not businesses owned by President Trump are allowed to provide services to foreign governments in exchange for payment. That rules out “any present” right away. Paying to rent office space isn’t a present.
  • The whole argument comes down to the meaning of “emolument” and whether or not it applies for payments to a business.
  • Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines an emolument as “the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.”
  • Payments to businesses owned (but not run) by President Trump aren’t a return arising from his office as president, and it’s that office that’s covered by the clause. He also isn’t an employee of his own businesses.
  • The whole purpose of the clause is to prevent foreign powers from paying the president in exchange for political favors; that’s why it applies to the office of president. The clause doesn’t cover the office of the owner of the Trump Organization, so the clause isn’t being violated.

What’s your opinion? Do you think holding the G-7 summit at a Trump facility is a violation of the Emoluments Clause? Let us know in the comments!

Copyright 2019, RightWing.org


  1. It is obvious that Trump has made lots of money by having the Secret Service stay at his hotels. He says that he isn’t getting his salary but he’s doing much better financially with his renting out rooms. And his kids fly around the globe and take along their guards. Somehow Trump junior won an Alaskan lottery for one f three permits to hunt large game in Alaska. Could the fix have been in?
    This stuff about Bernie not helping the workers is a blatant lie. He is merely asking that some control over how the greedy corporations use their money given to them by the American taxpayers. He and the Dems are only saying that the CEO’s sho uldn’t be allowed to use the money for buy-backs or for huge bonuses. What’s wrong with that? It is strange that Fox News broadcasts all of the Kentucky senator’s speech but nothing about Nancy Pelosi’s talk in rebuttal. Could that be biased? And Trump and his group from Fox news talked about the Democratic Hoax in this covid 19 flu and then say that they were ahead of the world in trying to do something about it. It is shown in all TV reports about the problem and yet the Fox people and Trump say that they knew about tway before anybody else. And you Foxistas believe it! Amazing!

  2. Trump and kiddies make millions every year by “implying” that foreign dignitaries have to stay at Trump properties (which they do, in droves). Trump implies he’d like them to do business with the kids just by bringing them along on trips. Kushner has been particularly blatant in this regard, getting emirs and such to buy suites in his/Trump’s buildings. Plus, all the money Trump makes by insisting that He and foreign wifey#3 stay at their own properties, so WE have to pay for Secret Service to stay there…believe me, Trump doesn’t need a salary, considering what he’s making from us and foreign bigwigs, not to mention the back-door money from the oligarchs!

  3. The Dem’s will do anything to prevent a legitimate business person, who knows how to make things happen, get into the Whitehouse. Any knowledgeable individual that can expose the nonsense that happens in Congress and get rid of the swamp is not welcome with elites like Nancy running the show. You know what this means for our future! As long as we have a puppet of Soros in the Presidency and running Congress, we will continue to go downhill and never be what we need to be to be free and just in the United States.

  4. I would say NO! Trump was not even going to charge for the meeting. Also, the Trump Organization has suspended all new contracts for the duration of his presidency. Also, President Trump is not taking a salary.

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