The Trump Organization says that at the end of the year, it will donate the profits it accrued from $270,000 in payments made this year by a lobbyist working for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The donation, which will go to the U.S. Treasury, could set a precedent for how the Trump Organization handles payments it receives from U.S. lobbyists working for foreign governments.
The company, which is controlled by President Trump’s two oldest sons, recently released its policy for handling “foreign government patronage.” But the policy, which was provided to Congress last month, did not explicitly identify money from foreign lobbyists as foreign government payments.
Trump Organization’s decision on the Saudi payments suggests that the company lumps cash from lobbyists in with the firms’ foreign government clients.
“In accordance with our foreign patronage policy, we intend to donate the profits of this transaction at the end of the calendar year,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization told The Daily Caller.
The Saudi payments in question were made by Qorvis MSLGroup to Trump International Hotel, a Trump Organization property in Washington, D.C.
As The Daily Caller recently reported, Qorvis MSLGroup covered expenses for hundreds of U.S. veterans that it recruited as part of a controversial lobbying campaign against Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a law passed last year which will allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government.
The Islamist regime opposes the bill and has tapped Qorvis MSLGroup to lobby for an amendment which effectively neuters the law. (RELATED: Saudis Spent $270k At Trump International Hotel For Lobbying Campaign)
Adding to the controversy over the lobbying effort is the response from some of the veterans recruited to travel to Washington, D.C.
Many have said that they were misled by consultants hired by Qorvis MSLGroup about the purposes of the trip. They said that they were also not told that they were working, in effect, for the Saudis.
The Saudi payments, as well as those made by other foreign governments to Trump properties, have also been cited as a potential violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Government watchdogs and some U.S. lawmakers claim that Trump Organization is in violation of the clause, which prohibits U.S. officials from accepting payments from foreign governments.
In response to that pressure, Trump Organization last month released a nine-page pamphlet laying out its plans for handling “foreign government patronage.”
The plan states that the Trump empire will donate profits from exchanges with “foreign government entities” — a category which includes foreign government agencies, foreign embassies, foreign political parties, members of a royal family or sovereign wealth funds.
The pamphlet also includes a formula that Trump Organization will use to calculate profits on the foreign government revenue it receives.