04:14 GMT +319 November 2017
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    The exterior of the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. (File)

    Artist Shows Where to ‘Pay Trump Bribes’ at President’s DC Hotel (PHOTOS)

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    For about 10 minutes on Monday evening, the front entrance at Trump International Hotel in Washington was marked with a projection instructing guests to “PAY TRUMP BRIBES HERE.”

    The projection was the work of local street artist Robin Bell.

    "We had a couple great moments. A tour bus pulled up, people started clapping and taking photos," Bell told the Daily News. "Everyone on the street, except for the security guard, seemed really happy." That same security guard blocked the projector with his body, putting a stop to Bell's performance.

    In addition to "PAY TRUMP BRIBES HERE," Bell also projected the phrase "EMOLUMENTS WELCOME," and the full text of Article I, Section Nine, Clause Eight of the US Constitution, the so-called Foreign Emoluments Clause. 

    An emolument is a somewhat archaic word for a salary or reimbursement. The Foreign Emoluments Clause reads that no government official may "accept of any present, emolument [compensation], office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state" unless they acquire Congressional approval.

    Of course, US presidents accept gifts from foreign leaders all the time, and it would be a waste of time for Congress to grant the president individual permission every time they are offered a present. Presidents often establish blind trusts with third parties to collect gifts offered to them by foreigners.

    ​There is also some debate as to how much the Emolument Clause applies to the president, as the Constitution usually explicitly names the president and vice president when parts of the Constitution refer to them. President Washington accepted gifts from French officials on at least two occasions. The vagueness of the Constitutional clause and the complexity of modern finances has made the issue of emoluments a lot of hot air: frequently arising, just as frequently forgotten.

    In Trump's specific instance, his expansive business empire obviously involves a great deal of money changing hands, and often that money is foreign in origin. Some ethicists believe that foreigners spending money at institutions owned by Trump's family, such as the hotel, is a violation of the Emolument Clause. In March, the federal government ruled that the hotel is not in violation of any laws.

    "It's a pretty clear cut example of impropriety," Bell said in a phone interview with CNN. "This is not like politics as usual. The rules and the lines are being pushed so far and this seemed to be so clear to me."

    Bell claims that this is the fifth time he has projected a message onto Trump International Hotel. For instance, in November 2016, Bell projected "EXPERTS AGREE: TRUMP IS A PIG" above the hotel's entrance. 

    More recently, in April he projected "100 DAYS OF POLLUTION" on the building's wall to mark Trump's 100th day in office.

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    Tags:
    emoluments clause, prank, Resist, protest, Trump International Hotel, Washington DC
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