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Hullabaloo


Monday, November 28, 2016

 

High school civics: emoluments

by Tom Sullivan

The emoluments clause. Remember it? The Chief Ethics Counsels for the last two presidents do:

Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump.

In an email to ThinkProgress, Eisen explained that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” This principle is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
But don't you know who he is? He's Trump, dammit.

Violation of the emoluments clause was considered grounds for impeachment by founders debating the proposed constitution. Eisen continues:
Eisen said that Trump’s businesses, foreign and domestic, “are receiving a stream of such payments.” A prime example is Trump’s new hotel in Washington DC which, according to Eisen, is “actively seeking emoluments to Trump: payments from foreign governments for use of the hotel.”

“The notion that his (through his agents) solicitation of those payments, and the foreign governments making of those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable,” Eisen added.
Not even inaugurated yet and Trump's already on the cusp of a constitutional crisis. Not that he'd know one if it bit him in the assets. Which is right where it should, actually.

He could, of course, sell off his companies to avoid violating the Constitution and/or impeachment. Or else get “Republicans in Congress [to] admit that they endorse Trump’s exploitation of public office for private gain and authorize his emoluments as the Constitution allows.” The ThinkProgress report considers the latter "unlikely." Why, I can't imagine.

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe believes Trump would be in violation upon uttering the oath of office. But the Electoral College could justifiably deny him that chance:
“[T]o vote for Trump in the absence of such complete divestment… would represent an abdication of the solemn duties of the 538 Electors,” Tribe said.
Don't hold your breath. People of integrity stopping Trump in the Electoral College? That's just as unlikely.

What does kleptocrat look like translated into Russian and written in Cyrillic script? Anyone know?