McKenna on KIRO: Just what, exactly, is an emolument?

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the constitution’s emoluments clause and what that means for President Trump’s business interests. A federal judge recently allowed a lawsuit over the emoluments issue to move forward. What does and doesn’t count as an emolument for a sitting president has not been tested in court.

Dave Ross: “We’re not talking about a bribe. A bribe implies a quid pro quo. An emolument is defined as simply receiving money, whether or not you truly provide anything in return for that.”

Rob McKenna: “And to be clear, we’re talking about money – profit, advantage, gain – you derive from foreign companies or foreign entities. Just to be clear.

“So apparently it’s perfectly fine if people from Pennsylvania go to the Trump – or New Jersey go to the Trump International Hotel and spend lots and lots of money on the overpriced food there.

“But the question would be, if all of a sudden Trump’s hotels are extremely popular with foreign governments and their staff and people they send to the United States, does that run afoul of the emoluments [clause]?”

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