China just granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks. Some of them look mighty sketchy.
Remember when Donald Trump hammered China from the campaign trail? Like everything else about him, that turned out to be a total sham. AP reported On Wednesday:
China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, a move that offers a potential business foothold for President Donald Trump’s family company and protects his name in a country notorious for counterfeiters.
At his rallies, the GOP’s president accused China of currency manipulation and stealing jobs from U.S. workers. Yet he still sent his lawyers there to apply for the marks in April, 2016. On Monday, Beijing published their provisional approvals. If no one objects — no one meaning anyone in the Trump administration or the Chinese government cares about — China will formally register the trademarks in 90 days.
Here are the screen images AP got from Donald Trump’s applications for the trademarks.
— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) March 9, 2017
And lest you think these applications for trademarks were filed by lawyers with no input from Donald Trump:
All but three are in the president’s own name. China already registered one trademark to the president, for Trump-branded construction services on Feb. 14, the result of a 10-year legal battle that turned in Trump’s favor after he declared his candidacy.
But wait, there’s more. Some of these businesses are not the kind of “classy” operations we’d expect from a president of the United States. But Donald Trump is setting a new (and lower) bar.
The marks include branded spa and massage services, golf clubs, hotels, insurance, finance and real estate companies, restaurants, bars, and a trademark class that covers bodyguards, social escorts, and concierge services.
Yup. You read that right. Massage services, bars, bodyguards, and “social escorts.” And this writer deeply apologizes to all the well-trained, highly skilled, and caring massage therapists whose patients would be flat on their backs or lurching around miserably in back, knee, and/or wrist braces without them. But come on, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about.
Needless to say, these trademarks are highly valuable in a market as yooge as China’s. This new development likely puts Donald Trump in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments clause, which bans public office holders from receiving gifts from foreign states that may be intended to influence them.
Of course, as The Washington Post points out, the emoluments clause has rarely come up since U.S. Ambassador Benjamin Franklin graciously accepted that diamond-studded snuffbox from King Louis XVI of France. The specific legal applications of this obscure clause are unclear, especially since the GOP’s agenda — not to mention their lawmakers’ campaign financing in 2018 — heavily depends on House and Senate Republicans finding them unclear.
Of course, the folks from Chang Tsi & Partners, the Beijing law firm that represents the Trump organization, has nothing to say so far. Yet even Republicans like Richard Painter — an ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush’s administration — say the sheer number of these approvals for new trademarks raises red flags.
According to Painter:
“A routine trademark, patent or copyright from a foreign government is likely not an unconstitutional emolument, but with so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is.”
NPR also notes that Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for the Trump organization, insisted there would be “no new foreign deals” for Donald Trump’s businesses while he serves as president.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) notes that the China’s sudden approval of the Trump trademarks seems awfully fishy.
“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 that the U.S. State, Justice, and Commerce departments give Congress a briefing. But, since we’re under the control of a “unified Republican government,” that’ll happen on a cold day in Hell.
WATCH: China Approves 38 trademarks for the Trump organization…Including body guard and escort services.