The Cable

Emoluments, Trump’s Tax Returns, and Theresa May: The Weekend Behind, the Week Ahead

Trump's first full week in office — already bogged down in scandal —is slated to be a busy one.


U.S. President Donald Trump’s first week in office is shaping up to be as packed as his first presidential weekend, loaded as it was with a global protest against the new president, the revelation that his national security adviser is under investigation for ties to Russia, and the White House’s coinage of “alternative facts.”

On Monday, per a New York Times report, a team of legal scholars and attorneys is set to file a lawsuit arguing Trump is violating the Constitution — specifically, the Emoluments clause — by permitting his businesses to accept payments made by foreign governments. They also mean to use the lawsuit to get a copy of Trump’s tax returns, which the Trump team said on Sunday it would not release. Trump has said for months he would do so upon completion of an alleged audit, making Sunday’s statement his latest broken promise — or, as White House adviser Kellyanne Conway might put it, “alternative pledge.”

But this isn’t the only campaign promise Trump needs to fulfill; he must now begin the arduous task of running the country and meeting with other countries’ heads of state. On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May will fly to Washington, the first head of state to meet with Trump as president (Japan’s Shinzo Abe was the first to meet him after his election).

The two are expected to discuss a U.S.-U.K. trade deal. The United Kingdom, however, has not yet left the European Union — May has not even triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism by which it would begin negotiations to leave — and EU foreign minister Federica Mogherini has said the United Kingdom may not make a separate trade deal with the United States until it has made its Brexit.

What’s not up for discussion? Sexism. After tens of thousands of women turned out for the London Women’s March on Saturday, May was asked if she would bring up sexism with Donald Trump. In response, she told Andrew Marr of BBC1 that her statement against sexism was being a woman, and that “I will be talking to Donald Trump about the issues that we share, about how we can build on the special relationship. It’s the special relationship that also enables us to say when we do find things unacceptable … Whenever there is something that I find unacceptable, I will say that to Donald Trump.”

Then, next week, Trump will Meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in Washington, D.C. Theirs will likely be a less special relationship, as Trump has accused Mexico of sending the United States rapists and killers and of taking advantage of its northern neighbor economically through the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has vowed to start renegotiating.

Trump is, of course, not the only member of the U.S. government who will need to get to work this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he expects the Senate to confirm the president’s entire cabinet quickly, beginning with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) for CIA director on Monday. “What’s been unfortunate,” McConnell said, “is that all I asked of my colleague Sen. Schumer was to treat President Trump the same we treated President Obama … They even delayed the CIA [director] … until Monday for some inexplicable reason.” Pompeo, in his written responses to to the Senate intelligence committee, said he would consider a return to waterboarding.

Also increasingly likely to be confirmed on Monday: ExxonMobil chief and Russian Order of Friendship recipient Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. In a statement issued on Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that, after much deliberation, they would support Tillerson. “Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin,” the statement read, “we believe that Mr. Tillerson can be an effective advocate for U.S. interests.”

Photo credit: John Angelillo/Pool via Bloomberg

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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