U.S. Sen. Mike Lee said Tuesday he has “a number of questions” about President Donald Trump getting from the Chinese government an exclusive trademark on the Trump name.
“I’m happy” to look into the matter, Lee told the Utah House in response to a question by House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake.
Lee, R-Utah, was not a supporter of Trump and admits that he voted for independent candidate Evan McMullin.
But now that Trump is the Republican president, Lee says he wants to work with him for many changes that need to come.
As is the case every general session, Lee addressed the House and Senate and then took a few questions from lawmakers.
Several groups are considering suing Trump over the trademark issue with China.
Article I of the Constitution says, in part: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
Lee is considered an expert on the Constitution, and said Tuesday – as he has many times – he considers his office a sacred trust to uphold the Constitution.
King asked Lee if he considers the Congress, and himself particularly, to be a check and balance on the executive branch of government.
And shouldn’t Lee act if he believes Trump is violating the Constitution by requesting, and getting, a Chinese trademark on his own name?
China has been free and easy with U.S. trademarks over the years – violating them at will, many in the U.S believe.
And, indeed, Trump had been seeking a trademark on his name for some time in China – but the government never gave it until he won the presidency last November.
Part of Trump’s billionaire business model is to license “Trump” with various ventures.
“Yes, we are a check on power,” said Lee. He added he has seen over the years various usurpations of power by the executive branch.
“I don’t know” if Trump’s Chinese trademark is an “emolument” or not. “I have a number of questions about that. What does a trademark mean” in connection to that Constitutional prohibition?
Trademarking a personal name “is not like any other intellectual property right I’m familiar with,” said Lee, an attorney and former legal counsel to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
There needs to be some degree of separation between Trump the individual and the Trump trademark.
Lee said he takes all constitutional questions seriously and will examine the Trump trademark and come to some conclusion after study.
Lee added that he has spoken to Trump personally, and the new president supports Lee’s efforts of clawing back some power to the legislative branch of government, especially from the executive branch.
Congress has inappropriately allowed various federal agencies to impose vast regulations on citizens.
Congress should require all executive regulations to be reviewed, and only by a vote of Congress, imposed on citizens.
That will be one of Lee’s main efforts over the next few years – to give back to the people power that has wrongly been taken by the federal government.