Trump Is Awarded 35 New Trademarks in China,Is That A Conflict of Interest?

President Donald Trump and CEO of the Trump Organization, was awarded approval to register three dozen new trademarks in China covering everything from bars and hotels to child-care and massage services, raising further concerns over potential conflicts of interest. The trademarks were applied for while Trump was campaigning to be President in May of 2016, when he was frequently criticizing China for stealing American jobs and for a trade deficient that is unfair to the United States.

The new trademarks come with a new set of questions of whether the President has a growing conflict of interest with his company and his position as President. Some U.S. law makers have raised questions about whether Trump’s position as president could prompt preferential treatment of his businesses Since 2005, Trump has filed for 126 trademarks in China for his business empire, and as recently as June 2016, his lawyers applied for three new marks in clothing and footwear, which are still under examination. Trump already has 77 trademarks in effect in China, while four were earlier rejected. The trademarks include the English version and the Chinese version of Donald Trump.

Zhang Mao, the head of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), told reporters after a briefing on the sidelines of the country’s annual parliament session stated that “Our trademark examination process is open and transparent,” and that “(They) were processed completely according to trademark law. You can go check.” He also shared that Trump did not receive any type of special treatment due to his status as President. Senate Democrats are expressing frustration with Trump continuing to be involved in his business saying that Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon had promised in January that there would be “no new foreign deals” during the Trump presidency. Now that there are new trademarks, the Trump Organization, which the president continues to own, may be laying the groundwork for expansions in China.

United States Senator Ben Cardin, (D-MA) stated that the issuance of these new trademarks is troubling due to, “For a decade prior to his election as president, Donald Trump sought, with no success, to have lucrative and valuable trademarks granted in the world’s biggest market. He was turned down each and every time. The floodgates now appear to be open.” Cardin has asked the federal departments of Justice, State and Commerce to “brief Congress, immediately, on these matters and on the potential constitutional dangers that they present.”

Democrats and other constitutional experts say that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which bars elected leaders from taking anything of value from foreign countries, unless approved by Congress. Dianne Feinstein of California said the trademark approvals are “exactly what the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause was designed to prevent, and President Trump is blatantly defying it.” They pointed to the fact that last month Trump was only awarded 1 trademark in China and now the company was awarded 35 more. Trump still have a financial stake in his company and has not fully divested.

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