Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) hosted a forum with ethics experts on Wednesday, where he expressed concern that foreign powers could influence the incoming Trump administration but did not mention the Clinton Foundation, which faced similar concerns during the presidential campaign.
Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, brought up various "conflicts of interest that are interwoven throughout President-elect Trump's entire global corporate enterprise." He specifically addressed Trump's financial dealings with entities in Russia, intensified by the country's interference in the presidential election. The Democratic lawmaker also expressed concern over Trump "owing hundreds of millions" to Deutsche Bank and other foreign entities and the sixty-year lease for Trump's new international hotel, which he said will be "breached" when Trump takes office.
Recent Stories in Politics
"I care about government officials in Bahrain, China, Turkey, Argentina, Singapore, and elsewhere who may buy up entire floors of hotel rooms, pay higher rents at Trump Tower, lower interest rates on loans, speed up permits for development projects, or take all kinds of other inappropriate actions to ingratiate themselves with this new administration," Cummings told the panel. "Those are the things we care about."
Cummings did not mention the Clinton Foundation during his remarks, despite the charity facing criticism during the 2016 election for overlapping government and private interests and having a network of connections to foreign donors, including governments. The Clinton Foundation accepted donations from several foreign countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Oman.
One donation to the Clinton Foundation from 2010 broke Obama administration guidelines, and critics have accused the charity of using pay-to-play tactics while Hillary Clinton was in the State Department to solicit donations for influence.
"At the simplest level, I care about every instance in which a foreign entity will see an opportunity to bestow illegal favors on the president that could degrade our democracy," Cummings said. "This is bigger than our president-elect, this is bigger than this moment. This is about our democracy, and the laws that go with it."