A former top Mexican diplomat accused the Trump administration this week of using official diplomatic channels to funnel business to Donald Trump’s hotels.
Arturo Sarukhan, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to the United States from 2007 to 2013, tweeted on Tuesday that a former U.S. diplomat told him the U.S. State Department’s protocol emphasizes to world leaders that they should use Trump’s D.C. hotel for official visits.
Kakistocracia: ex funcionario EU me dice q Protocolo DptoEstado fue instruido a enfatizar a gobs🌎 usar HotelTrump p/ viajes oficiales a DC
— Arturo Sarukhan (@Arturo_Sarukhan) October 31, 2017
Sarukhan’s tweet also uses the term “kakistocracy,” which means government by the worst people.
If the State Department is, in fact, helping Trump drive foreign governments’ business to his hotels, then it is complicit in a violation of the Constitution. The Constitution provides that no “person holding any office of profit or trust” under the United States may “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.”
Dozens of dictionaries published around the time of the Constitution’s drafting define the word “emolument” to include a “profit or gain” from a business transaction.
A foreign official’s choice to stay in a Trump hotel in order to ingratiate themselves with the President of the United States could also constitute a “present” bestowed upon Trump.
Sarukhan’s tweet, moreover, is only the latest evidence that Trump is using his presidency to drive business to his hotels. As ThinkProgress previously reported, “Trump’s new downtown D.C. hotel has hosted embassy events for Azerbaijan and Kuwait, who switched to the Trump hotel from their original booking at the Four Seasons. The hotel hosted an annual conference sponsored by the Turkish state last month — a conference that in previous years was habitually held at the Ritz Carlton. And, since Trump’s election, a Saudi-backed lobbying campaign spent around $270,000 at the hotel for lodging and catering costs.”