By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Businesses tied to Republican former U.S. President Donald Trump received at least $7.8 million in foreign payments from 20 countries during his four years in the White House, Democratic congressional investigators said Thursday.
U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Democrats said the payments detailed in the 156-page report are likely a fraction of the foreign payments made to Trump and his family during his 2017-2021 administration.
“These countries spent — often lavishly — on apartments and hotel stays at Donald Trump’s properties — personally enriching President Trump while he made foreign policy decisions connected to their policy agendas with far-reaching ramifications for the United States,” the report said.
The countries included China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malaysia.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump, a businessman before his election, broke with U.S. precedent and did not divest from his businesses or put them into a blind trust when he took office, instead leaving his adult sons to manage them.
Shortly after Trump was elected to the presidency in 2016, Congress began probing conflicts of interests and Trump’s potential violations of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars the acceptance of presents from foreign states by a person holding federal elected office without congressional consent.
The investigation led to a lengthy court dispute, which ended in a settlement in 2022, at which point Trump’s accounting firm began producing the requested documents.
When Republicans took control of the House early last year, the committee stopped requiring Trump’s accounting firm to produce documents and a U.S. District Court ended the litigation.
The report discussed four properties, less than 1% of the 558 corporate entities Trump owned either directly or indirectly as president. Trump’s accounting firm did not provide documents regarding at least 80% of Trump’s business entities, congressional investigators said.
The report’s release comes as Trump, 77, seeks to regain the presidency in the 2024 election. He is the leading candidate to secure the Republican nomination and is expected to face off against President Joe Biden, 81, in a rematch of the 2020 campaign.
The committee’s chairman, Republican James Comer, dismissed the report’s findings.
“It’s beyond parody that Democrats continue their obsession with former President Trump,” Comer said in a statement. “Former President Trump has legitimate businesses but the Bidens do not.”
House Republicans have mounted an impeachment inquiry against Biden mostly centered on his son, Hunter. Republicans allege that Biden and his family improperly profited from policy actions Biden participated in as vice president in 2009-17 and that the Justice Department interfered with an investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes for political purposes.
The White House has denied wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis)