UK and Irish help for Trump Organization probed by Democrats

Democrats in the US House of Representatives have demanded information about the Trump Organization’s reported efforts to claim government relief for its golf resorts in the UK and Ireland.

Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat who chairs the House committee on oversight and reform, and Jamie Raskin, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, sent a letter on Thursday to Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump and an executive vice-president of the Trump Organization.

The lawmakers asked for any documents relating to the Trump Organization’s applications for “any loans or other funds from any domestic or foreign government entity, including the British government, referring or relating to the coronavirus crisis”.

The Cares Act, the $2.2tn economic stimulus package signed into law in March, prohibited US taxpayer funds, such as the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, from being used to benefit companies in which President Trump holds a stake. He retains an ownership interest in the Trump Organization, though his sons Eric and Donald Jr manage the business.

The Trump Organization owns two golf resorts in Scotland — in Aberdeen and Turnberry — and another in Doonbeg, Ireland. Bloomberg News reported last month that the company was seeking bailout money in the UK and Ireland to help cover wages for employees unable to work due to coronavirus-related lockdowns.

Ms Maloney and Mr Raskin said the reports called into question whether the president had violated the emoluments clauses of the US constitution, which prohibit officeholders from receiving gifts or other benefits from foreign governments.

“Apart from the grave emoluments clause problems your actions cause in the United States, officials in the United Kingdom have raised serious concerns about using their own taxpayer funds to bail out President Trump’s companies,” they wrote.

The lawmakers quoted Martin Ford, an elected official in Aberdeenshire, who told Bloomberg: “The huge tab for this will be borne throughout the whole population through higher taxes. If what he says about his personal wealth is true, Trump doesn’t need the money, and I don’t see why UK taxpayers of the future should be helping him out.”

Other local politicians were less critical of the US president. Michael McNamara, an independent member of the Irish parliament for the county where a Trump resort is located, told the Financial Times last month: “Like any other business, I’d rather they avail of the wage subsidy scheme than lay people off. That’s the beginning and the end of it.”

“The question of whether he is liked or popular as a political leader is irrelevant,” Mr McNamara added. “To quote one of his former golf buddies: ‘It’s the economy stupid.’ He owns the most economically important business in west Clare.” 

In a statement from the Trump Organization, Eric Trump said like millions of other businesses across the globe the company had been forced to temporarily close its facilities because of government mandates and was working to retain its employees.

“The job retention plan created by the UK government has nothing to do with the Trump Organization and does not benefit the business — it is solely about protecting people and their families who would otherwise be out of work,” he said.

“We are anxiously awaiting the day that we receive approval from the government to reopen our doors and look forward to getting back to business.”

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