Grassley: 'Partisan' Lawsuits Against Trump Should Also Implicate Clinton

Chuck Grassley / Getty Images
August 16, 2017

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) is arguing that plaintiffs in three separate cases claiming President Donald Trump violated the Emoluments Clause should also sue Hillary Clinton.

Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested that Clinton may also have violated the clause when she was secretary of state, Circa reports. He called the lawsuits "partisan and narrow" in their scope.

The Emoluments Clause, 49 words in Article I of the Constitution, provides that "no person holding any office of profit or trust under [the United States], 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."

Grassley also suggested that members of Congress should investigate "whether legislation may be necessary to force agencies to remedies when the Clause is violated," and documented millions of dollars in foreign contributions to Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, from foreign governments and entities connected to those governments.

Grassley wrote to multiple plaintiffs this week, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW); Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.); and Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D.), and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D.)

"The Office of Government Ethics has held in its advisory opinions that [employees who prepare joint tax returns with their spouses] would be considered to have derived financial or economic benefit from their spouses' assets," Grassley wrote. "They would also be charged with knowledge of their spouses' assets. Since Secretary Clinton filed joint tax returns with her husband, she received a direct financial and economic benefit from his income."

"Accordingly, based on the scope of the Clause outlined in your complaint, Secretary Clinton appears to have received emoluments that were not validated by congressional consent," Grassley added.

The senator explicitly attacked litigants as being biased, ignoring some instances of government abuse and not others.

"The Clause must be enforced impartially, without regard for power, privilege, or party," he wrote. "Selective efforts to enforce the Clause smack of partisan political bias. A fair examination of Secretary Clinton's financial benefits from foreign government entities and instrumentalities, by your reasoning, plainly shows that those benefits implicate the Clause. Yet your complaint[s] raised none of these concerns."

Examples of emoluments that Grassley offered from "Clinton joint tax returns" included: $500,000 from the Abu Dhabi Global Environment Data Initiative; $500,000 from a Russian government-aligned investment bank; and a $200,000 speech allegedly supported by the Chinese government.