‘Foreign Emoluments’? Look Here.

'Foreign Emoluments'? Look Here.

“The U.S. State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress, according to documents and people familiar with the leases, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause.”

— “Foreign government leases at Trump World Tower stir more emoluments concerns,” Julia Harte, Reuters

Trump World Tower, built in 2001 and financed by Deutsche Bank, is located at 845 United Nations Plaza and has been the New York residence of several UN diplomats, so it’s not surprising that the governments of Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Thailand and the European Union would rent condominiums there. The problem: those leases were signed in 2017, while Donald Trump was President, and those agreements required the prior approval of Congress.

Who says? The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8:

“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.”

What did “emolument” mean to the Founders? “Profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or “benefit.” U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan agrees.


“The Definition of ‘Emolument’ in English Language and Legal Dictionaries, 1523-1806,” John Mikhail, SSRN


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