House Oversight Committee Democrats released a report Thursday attempting to connect former President Donald Trump to a pay-for-play foreign influence scheme, but the evidence fell far short of a smoking gun.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, released a report revealing that Trump’s business entities raked in at least $7.8 million from 20 foreign governments and their subsidiaries during the first two years of his presidency, including from China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Malaysia. A majority of that money, however, came from one business that began renting office space from Trump Tower in 2008 and concluded its partnership in 2019, during his administration, the report shows.
“The difference between Trump’s foreign income and Biden’s foreign income is that Trump had legitimate goods and services to sell and was tough on China while the Bidens did not have any legitimate business and Joe has been weak on China,” Seamus Bruner, director of research at the Government Accountability Institute, told the Daily Caller in a statement.
Of the $7.8 million Trump’s businesses made from foreign governments during the two years in question, $5.5 million that was paid to Trump-owned properties was from the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises, the records show. Of that, the committee estimates that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, a Chinese state-owned business, paid Trump-owned properties $5.3 million between February 2017 and October 2019.
The Chinese company had entered a contract with Trump Tower for commercial office space in 2008, the report shows. The contract was concluded on Oct. 31, 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began and with nearly a year-and-a-half still remaining in Trump’s first term in office.
Throughout his presidency, Trump made being harsh on China a key part of his foreign policy and took steps to do that by instituting unprecedented tariffs, including an additional 15% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods. The tariff was originally set at 10% and compelled China to increase American imports.
Additionally, nine of the countries cited in the report paid less than $10,000 to Trump businesses, according to the report. Cyprus, one of the countries listed, paid just $590.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, India and Malaysia each spent more than $200,000 at Trump’s businesses, the report shows, but a spokesperson for the Trump Organization noted to NPR that all profits from foreign governments were given away.
Profits for Trump’s businesses from foreign governments “were donated in full to the United States Treasury for patronage at our properties while President Trump was in office,” Kimberly Benza told NPR. Benza made note of a $450,000 donation Trump made.
Raskin accused House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of colluding with Trump’s attorneys to try to block the committee from gaining additional records about the former president’s foreign payments.
“While the figures and constitutional violations in this report are shocking, we still don’t know the extent of the foreign payments that Donald Trump received —or even the total number of countries that paid him and his businesses while he was President—because Committee Chairman James Comer and House Republicans buried any further evidence of the Trump family’s staggering corruption,” Raskin said in a statement.
The House Democrats’ report comes as Republicans move forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over his family’s foreign business dealings. From 2014-2019, Biden’s family and its business associates collected more than $24 million from Ukraine, Russia, China, Romania and Kazakhstan, according to a September memo from House Republicans. The figure is nearly 15 million more than Trump is reported to have received by House Democrats.
“It’s beyond parody that Democrats continue their obsession with former President Trump. Former President Trump has legitimate businesses but the Bidens do not. The Bidens and their associates made over $24 million by cashing in on the Biden name in China, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Romania. No goods or services were provided other than access to Joe Biden and the Biden network,” Comer told the Daily Caller.
Biden’s son Hunter played a large role in obtaining the funds. Throughout the Trump presidency, after his father left office, Hunter Biden made numerous business deals with foreign entities. CEFC, a Chinese firm, sent a business associate of Hunter’s $3 million through its State Energy HK account, bank records previously released by the Oversight Committee show.
Hunter Biden’s federal tax indictment in California clarified that he received about $1 million of the funds sent to the State Energy HK account. He made additional income in 2017 and 2018 from Hudson West III, a business entity he formed with CEFC associates. Hunter Biden’s relationship began in 2015 when his father was still vice president, his California indictment shows.
“Democrats like Jamie Raskin are trying to deflect from the fact that the Biden family bagged at least $30 million from foreign individuals linked to the highest levels of the Chinese military and intelligence apparatus—perhaps the greatest presidential scandal in American history,” Bruner told the Daily Caller.
White House correspondent. Follow Reagan on Twitter.
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