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What Is the Emoluments Clause?

The emoluments clause, also called the foreign emoluments clause, is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives.

The plain purpose of the foreign emoluments clause was to ensure that the country’s leaders would not be improperly influenced, even unconsciously, through gift giving, then a common and generally corrupt practice among European rulers and diplomats.

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