No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, 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.
Friday evening, the Washington Post reported that about 100 foreign diplomats gathered at President-elect Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington, DC to “to sip Trump-branded champagne, dine on sliders and hear a sales pitch about the U.S. president-elect’s newest hotel.” The tour included a look at the hotel’s $20,000 a night “town house” suite. The Post also quoted some of the diplomats saying they intended to stay at the hotel in order to ingratiate themselves to the incoming president.
“Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’” said one diplomat from an Asian nation. “Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’”
The incoming president, in other words, is actively soliciting business from agents of foreign governments. Many of these agents, in turn, said that they will accept the president-elect’s offer to do business because they want to win favor with the new leader of the United States.
In an exclusive exchange with ThinkProgress, Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who previously served as chief ethics counsel to President George W. Bush, says that Trump’s efforts to do business with these diplomats is at odds with a provision of the Constitution intended to prevent foreign states from effectively buying influence with federal officials.