Dems ask Trump for info on new Chinese trademarks

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A group of Democratic senators want more information from President Donald Trump regarding a series of trademark approvals of Trump products by China, questioning the timing of the approvals because of Trump’s struggles to obtain Chinese trademarks before he entered the White House.

The senators, including Michigan's Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, say the matter raises concerns regarding potential violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits gifts or payments of anything of value to a federal officials by foreign governments without congressional approval.

“We write today regarding a troubling pattern of trademark approvals by the People’s Republic of China since your election victory which has raised concerns over your potential conflicts of interest,” the lawmakers wrote, requesting information on efforts that Trump has taken with the Chinese government to secure approval for the trademarks.

“In particular, China’s rapid approvals after years of court battles have raised questions as to whether the trademarks will prevent you from standing up to China on behalf of American workers and businesses.”

Democrats in Congress have pressed Trump to cut financial ties with his international businesses to avoid potential violations of the emoluments clause. They have also written to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson regarding the president’s intellectual property interests in China.

Trump has said he will not enter new foreign deals while he’s in office. A representative for the Trump Organization told the Times the application for the trademark predates the presidential election, and that the registration has since been assigned to a holding company.

Other senators who signed Tuesday’s letter include Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Including provisional approvals, Trump could bring his total trademarks in China to 116, including the latest for an apparel trademark reported last week by The New York Times.

The senators asked Trump for specific information by June 13, including the monetary value assigned to his trademarks and a description of all the trademark applications submitted to China on behalf of Trump and his business interests, including the dates of application and whether any remain pending.

They also asked whether Trump or anyone acting on his behalf communicated with Chinese officials or the U.S. Chinese Embassy regarding his candidacy or the presidency with respect to his applications, and what kind of “government relations” strategy was employed in regard to the applications.

China earlier this year defended its handling of trademarks that it had approved provisionally for Trump, saying it followed the law. Some experts considered the pace of approval to be unusually fast.

The Associated Press contributed.

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