From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
RAISING A QUESTION OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THE HOUSE
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of the privileges of
the House, and offer the resolution that was previously noticed.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the resolution.
The Clerk read as follows:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that
the President shall immediately disclose his tax return
information to Congress and the American people.
Whereas, the Emoluments Clause was included in the U.S.
Constitution for the express purpose of preventing federal
officials from accepting any “present, Emolument, Office, or
Title . . . from any King, Prince, or foreign State”;
Whereas, in Federalist No. 22 (Alexander Hamilton) it is
said, “One of the weak sides of republics, among their
numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to
foreign corruption,” and;
Whereas, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention
specifically designed the Emoluments Clause as an antidote to
potentially corrupting foreign practices of a kind that the
Framers had observed during the period of the Confederation,
Whereas, Article 1, section 9, clause 8 of the Constitution
states: “no person holding any office of profit or trust . .
. 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”, and;
Whereas, in 2009, the Office of Legal Counsel clarified
that corporations owned or controlled by foreign governments
presumptively qualify as foreign States under the foreign
Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, the word “emoluments” means profit, salary,
fees, or compensation which would include direct payment, as
well as other benefits, including extension of credit,
forgiveness of debt, or the granting of rights of pecuniary
Whereas, according to The New Yorker, in 2012, The Trump
Organization entered into a deal with Ziya Mammadov to build
the Trump Tower Baku in the notoriously corrupt country
Azerbaijan in possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act and, by profiting from business with the
Mammadov family, due to their financial entanglements with
the Iran Revolutionary Guard may have also violated the
Emoluments Clause if income from this project continues to
flow to The Trump Organization, and;
Whereas, The Trump Organization has deals in Turkey,
admitted by the President himself during a 2015 Brietbart
interview, and when the President announced his travel ban,
Turkey's President called for President Trump's name to be
removed from Trump Towers Istanbul, according to The Wall
Street Journal, and President Trump's company is currently
involved in major licensing deals for that property which may
implicate the Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, shortly after election, the President met with the
former U.K. Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, to get
help to stop obstructions of the view from one of his golf
resorts in Scotland, and according to The New York Times,
both of the resorts he owns there are promoted by Scotland's
official tourism agency, a benefit that may violate the
Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, at Trump Tower in New York, the Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China is a large tenant, according to
Bloomberg; the United Arab Emirates leases space, according
to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority; and the Saudi
Mission to the U.N. makes annual payments, according to the
New York Daily News, and money from these foreign countries
goes to the President, and;
Whereas, according to NPR, in February China gave
provisional approval for 38 new trademarks for The Trump
Organization, which have been sought for a decade to no
avail, until President Trump won the election. This is a
benefit the Chinese Government gave to the President's
businesses in possible violation of the Emoluments Clause,
Whereas, the President is part owner of a New York building
carrying a $950 million loan, partially held by the Bank of
China, according to The New York Times, when owing the
Government of China by the extension of loans and credits by
a foreign State to an officer of the United States would
violate the Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, NPR reported that the Embassy of Kuwait held its
600 guest National Day celebration at Trump Hotel in
Washington, D.C., last month, proceeds to Trump, and;
Whereas, according to The Washington Post, the Trump
International Hotel in Washington, D.C., has hired a
“director of diplomatic sales” to generate high-priced
business among foreign leaders and diplomatic delegations,
Whereas, according to his 2016 candidate filing with the
Federal Election Commission, the President has 564 financial
companies located in the United States and around the world,
Whereas, against the advice of ethics attorneys and the
Office of Government Ethics, the President has refused to
divest his ownership stake in his businesses, and;
Whereas, the Director of the nonpartisan Office of
Government Ethics said that the President's plan to transfer
his business holdings to a trust managed by family members is
“meaningless” and “does not meet the standards that . . .
every President in the past four decades has met”, and;
Whereas, in the United States' system of checks and
balances, Congress has a responsibility to hold the executive
branch of government to the highest standard of transparency
to ensure the public interest is placed first and the
Constitution is adhered to, and;
Whereas, the House Judiciary Committee has the first
responsibility among the committees of the House to see that
elements of our Constitution are adhered to and, in
furtherance of that responsibility, Judiciary Committee
members have historically utilized fact-finding and research
prior to formal hearings, and;
Whereas, tax returns provide an important baseline
disclosure because they contain highly instructive
information including whether the filer paid taxes, what they
own, what they have borrowed and from whom, whether they have
made any charitable donations, and whether they have taken
advantage of tax loopholes and that such information would be
material to members of the Judiciary Committee as research is
undertaken on whether President Trump is in violation of the
Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and;
Whereas, disclosure of the President's tax returns would be
an effective means for the President to provide evidence
either refuting or confirming claims of violations of the
Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, the President's tax returns are likely to be
essential as members of the Judiciary Committee work to
research potential violations of the Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, the chairmen of the Ways and Means Committee,
Joint Committee on Taxation, and Senate Finance Committee
have the authority to request the President's tax returns
under section 6103 of the Tax Code, and this power is an
essential tool in learning whether the President may be in
violation of the Emoluments Clause, and;
Whereas, questions involving constitutional functions and
the House's constitutionally granted powers have been
recognized as valid questions of the privileges of the House.
Resolved, That the House of Representatives shall--
1. Immediately request the tax return information of Donald
J. Trump for tax years 2000 through 2015 for review by
Congress, as part of a determination as to whether the
President is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of
the U.S. Constitution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Does the gentlewoman from California wish to
present argument on the parliamentary question of whether the
resolution presents a question of the privileges of the House?
Ms. LOFGREN. I do, Mr. Speaker.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The remarks of the gentlewoman must be
confined to the question of whether the resolution presents a question
of the privileges of the House.
The gentlewoman from California is recognized.
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, under clause 1 of rule IX, questions of the
privileges of the House are: “those affecting the rights of the House
collectively, its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its
The dignity and integrity of the House's proceedings have been
violated, and continue to be violated, because Congress has not had the
constitutionally afforded opportunity to consent to emoluments being
received by the President or to enforce, if consent is not given.
I would note that Congress has the authority to request the
President's taxes under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, and
use of this authority would not be unprecedented, as it was used in
1974 to request President Nixon's tax returns that revealed that he
owed nearly half a million dollars in back taxes.
I would note that issues of the Constitution and the House's
prerogatives under the Constitution have a precedent in using rule IX
as a privileged resolution.
For example, if a revenue measure is initiated in the Senate instead
of in the House as required by the Constitution, that is a matter of a
privilege of the House. I would argue that the Emoluments Clause is at
least as important, possibly more important, than the origination of a
revenue measure in either the House or Senate.
I have been a member of the Judiciary Committee for 22 years. I am
well aware of how the Judiciary Committee operates and the need for
individual Members to do research before any official action is taken
in that committee. And since it is the Judiciary Committee, it has the
first responsibility for adhering to the Constitution among the
committees of the House. I think it is absolutely essential for the
President's tax returns to be released so that the members of the
Judiciary Committee can do their job to research whether the Emoluments
Clause has been violated and whether permission should be given to the
President to receive payments from foreign states.
I would note that there is no question that the Emoluments Clause of
the Constitution was placed there to prevent corruption in the system.
It was based on a sad experience during the Articles of Confederation.
It is necessary to make sure that the President and all other officers
of the United States have loyalty to only one thing, and that is to the
United States of America, not to any foreign power.
In order to do that, we need to review the data. As I say, the
dignity and integrity of the House requires that the Constitution be
upheld, and in order to uphold the Constitution, we must have this
For these reasons, the resolution raises a question of the privileges
of the House and should be permitted, Mr. Speaker.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman from California seeks to
offer a resolution as a question of the privileges of the House under
In evaluating the resolution under rule IX, the Chair must determine
whether the resolution affects “the rights of the House collectively,
its safety, dignity, and the integrity of its proceedings.”
The resolution offered by the gentlewoman from California directs the
House to request the President's tax return information as part of a
determination as to whether the President is in violation of the
Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Section 702 of the House Rules and Manual states that “rule IX is
concerned not with the privileges of the Congress, as a legislative
branch, but only with the privileges of the House, as a House.” As
such, reviews of extramural activities, even with regard to
constitutional prerogatives, have not met the standards of rule IX.
The Chair would also cite the proceedings of May 21, 2009. On that
date, a resolution proposing a review of the accuracy of certain public
statements made by the Speaker regarding communications to Congress
from the executive branch was held not to qualify as a question of
privilege, because it necessarily would have required a review not only
of the Speaker's statements but also of actions by extramural actors in
the executive branch.
The resolution offered by the gentlewoman from California does not
invoke a unique prerogative of the House, as a House. Instead, it seeks
documents from the President, an actor entirely extramural to the
House. Accordingly, the resolution does not qualify as a question of
the privileges of the House.
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I appeal that ruling.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is, Shall the decision of the
Chair stand as the judgment of the House?
Motion to Table
Mr. FLORES. Mr. Speaker, I have a motion at the desk.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the motion.
The Clerk read as follows:
Mr. Flores of Texas moves to lay the appeal on the table.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion to table.
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that
the ayes appeared to have it.
Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, this 15-
minute vote on the motion to table will be followed by a 5-minute vote
on passage of S.J. Res. 34.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 228,
nays 190, answered “present” 2, not voting 9, as follows:
[Roll No. 201]
Hice, Jody B.
Rooney, Thomas J.
Boyle, Brendan F.
Doyle, Michael F.
Johnson, E. B.
Lujan Grisham, M.
Lujan, Ben Ray
Maloney, Carolyn B.
Mr. O'HALLERAN changed his vote from “yea” to “nay.”
So the motion to table was agreed to.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.