Democratic Lawmaker Wants to Make It a Criminal Offense for Trump and His Family to Accept Foreign Money

California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell introduced a bill Monday that seeks to make it a criminal offense for President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, their families and any companies they have a controlling interest in from accepting "anything of value from a foreign power."

The bill, called the Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act, would expand on the "Emoluments Clause," the anti-corruption provision of the U.S. Constitution that already prohibits government employees from receiving gifts from foreign governments. The bill would make it a criminal offense to accept "anything of value from a foreign power or from any company that is more than 50 percent controlled by a foreign power." It would apply to any of the president's and vice president's immediate family members, in addition to Trump.

Swalwell told Newsweek by phone Tuesday that whether it is "this president or any other president," they should not "financially [benefit] from foreign countries."

"For the interest of having integrity in the Oval Office, we don't want our leader influenced by foreign-backed money," Swalwell said. "This president has shown that we need to revisit executive authority. I think this is one of the many reform measures that will have to be considered."

Swalwell also said in a prior statement that Trump should not have "his own wallet fattened by foreign interests."

Swalwell chose to draft the bill after the Chinese government gave a $500 million loan to a government-owned construction company, the Metallurgical Corporation of China, in May to fund a large Indonesian theme park that will feature Trump-branded hotels, golf courses and residences.

Two days later, Trump tweeted that he was working with the Chinese government to get Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE "back into business, fast." Trump has eased sanctions on ZTE, which breached an agreement to pay a $1.2 billion fine for conspiring to sell U.S. technology to North Korea and Iran.

President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018

Swalwell, who is on the House Intelligence Committee, also noted the Trump Organization's "long history of Russian investments and banking connections" and his positive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite mounting evidence that Putin attempted to subvert the 2016 American elections.

Trump has refused to divest from his business interests and put them in a blind trust, as past presidents have. Instead, he handed over the day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization to his two eldest sons.

Since Trump has taken office, businesses bearing the president's name have continued to receive large amounts of money from foreign governments.

In March, a top lobbying group for the oil industry held a two-day board meeting at Trump's D.C. hotel before it went to the White House to lobby against the president's proposed steel tariffs, Politico reported. During Trump's first year in office, dozens of foreign governments spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at his properties, including a Saudi Arabian public relations company that spent $270,000 at the D.C. hotel.

With Republicans in control of both the House and Senate, the bill is not likely to be voted on or passed.

Update: This story has been updated to include Swalwell's comments to Newsweek.

Eric Swalwell
House Intelligence Committee member Representative Eric Swalwell, center, speaks a news conference about the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on July 17 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)