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He won’t show the public any paperwork that says so.
The wording of the Constitution is clear: Article 2, Section 1, Clause 7, also known as the Compensation Clause, dictates that the president must receive a fixed salary during his time in office, which cannot be changed, eliminated, or refused during the duration of his presidency. The purpose of the clause, wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 73, is to ensure the president’s financial independence from outside forces. “They can neither weaken his fortitude by operating on his necessities, nor corrupt his integrity by appealing to his avarice,” he wrote.
Donald Trump, of course, has other income sources. The president retains his financial stake in the Trump Organization and, while he has handed operations over to his two adult sons, continues to profit from their business dealings all around the world. When his private Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, raised its initiation fee to $200,000 in the wake of his election, that money went into Trump’s pocket—just as it does every time that tourists and lobbyists alike book rooms at the newly opened Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. He also has a long history of making public displays of donating said profits, though the evidence of his professed charity has never been as obvious.
So it came as no surprise when Trump declared that he would refuse his $400,000 yearly salary as president. (Upon learning that he was constitutionally required to accept the money, he amended his statement, saying via a spokeswoman that he would accept $1 and either give the rest back to the U.S. Treasury or donate it to charity.)
Nor does it come as a surprise now, in the wake of Trump’s first pay cycle as president, that MSNBC reports there is no evidence that Trump has fulfilled his promise. With his second monthly check set to arrive any day, neither the White House, the Treasury Department, nor the Office of Personnel Management, were able to furnish any details or documentation as to where Trump’s first $33,333 monthly paycheck had gone, nor where his next paycheck would go. (On Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the president would donate his salary at the end of the year “and he’s asked that you all determine where it goes.”)
It would not be the first time that the Trump administration has declined to offer any details of the president’s finances. Trump’s tax returns, which he promised on the campaign trail to eventually release, will not be forthcoming, according to aides. And the White House has yet to provide any evidence of what the Trump Organization is doing with the money it receives from foreign governments and dignitaries at its hotels—payments that could be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. A lawyer for Trump previously argued that such payments should be exempt from the rule, since such revenues would represent a “fair value exchange,” not a gift or emolument.
Trump promised to donate any proceeds to the Treasury Department anyway. “The plan was released by Trump’s private law firm, Morgan Lewis,” MSNBC notes, “but no system or accounting has been released for how or when such donations will be processed or disclosed.” Perhaps, like he did before when accepting money meant for charity, Trump is saving up to buy more $20,000 portraits