Tag Archives: emoluments clause

Trump shows his ignorance one more astonishing time

Wow! That was a wild 72 hours in the world of Donald J. “King of Hospitality” Trump.

He announced plans, via Twitter, to play host to the G7 summit of industrialized nations at his Doral Country Club in south Florida, a decision that clearly violates the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Then he announces, again via Twitter, that he’s changed his mind. He won’t host the summit there. He’ll look for another suitable location.

Does that make it all better now? Is the president clear of impeachable offenses? Uhh, no. He’s not.

The Emoluments Clause bans the president from benefiting from his public office. Hosting the G7 summit at Doral would have lined his pockets considerably, given that he never divested himself of his many business interests after becoming president. There are the other matters still to be considered, though, regarding probable impeachment by the House of Representatives. We’ll get to those another time.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney went on Fox News this morning to say Trump was “surprised” at the pushback. No surprise there. Trump’s ignorance of constitutional matters is well-known and well-chronicled.

Mulvaney said Trump still considers himself in the “hospitality business” and wants to put on the best show possible for the foreign dignitaries. But he’s the president of the United States, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace reminded him. Mulvaney said hospitality is part of Trump’s “background.” Yeah. Let’s move on.

The United States of America is full of resorts that could play host to this event. Here’s a thought: How about Camp David, the official presidential retreat tucked in the Maryland mountains not far from the D.C. hustle and bustle? Sure, Trump has said he considers Camp David to be a dump. However, it has been the site of many important gatherings.

What’s more, it is a publicly owned site reserved for presidents to relax and, yes, to welcome foreign dignitaries. It also has not a single thing to do with Donald Trump’s business empire.

Trump got the pushback he deserved when he made his initial Doral decision. No, it wasn’t, as he said on Twitter, the result of what he described as “Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.”

It was based on Donald Trump’s utter incompetence and his expressed belief that he can do whatever the hell he wants, even if it flouts the U.S. Constitution.

POTUS provides impetus to proceed now with impeachment

Donald J. Trump’s profound arrogance has given the House of Representatives all the evidence it now needs to determine that the president of the United States has committed an impeachable act.

He has committed an unconstitutional act. How?

By awarding himself a massive government contract that will bring the leaders of the seven leading industrial nations of the world to his posh resort in south Florida. Yep, Doral National Country Club is going to play host to the G7 summit of nations next spring.

Donald Trump has declared Doral to be the most fitting resort in the United States to host this event. He has violated the Emoluments Clause to the U.S. Constitution, the one that says the president cannot profit from his public office.

Trump will profit bigly by playing host to the G7 summit.

There is no more need, in my mind, for the House to look much further — if at all — for reasons to impeach the president. He has delivered a big reason all by himself.

I haven’t mentioned — until right now — what White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney declared, that the president withheld arms to Ukraine for political purposes. He then scolded the media to “Get over it.”

That, too, is an impeachable offense. It also violates the Constitution.

However, this awarding of the government contract to his own business simply crosses the biggest red line possible.

Donald Trump needs to be impeached. He needs to be thrown out of office after a Senate trial.

My question remains: How in the name of no man being above the law can Republicans in Congress and across the land ignore what is occurring in real time before all our eyes?

‘Emoluments’ have become a matter of interpretation

Donald Trump has violated his oath of office. I stand by that assertion and will continue to stand by it for as long as I am able to stand by anything.

But I have received a fair question from someone who commented on a recent blog post. The question, in part, asks this:

“[N]o Person holding any office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] 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.”

If this is the part of the Constitution that he has allegedly violated, then I guess the theory is that he was seeking a present from the President of the Ukraine in the form of an investigation into Burisma and the Bidens.

The blog reader asks for a blog post that explains what Donald Trump has done to call for his impeachment.

I believe the Emoluments Clause is a tangential element in the argument that he has violated his oath.

My greatest concern is the “favor” he sought from Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy. The Ukrainian president said in that July 25 phone call that he appreciated the help coming from the United States in the form of weapons Ukraine is using against Russia-backed rebels. Then the next thing that came from Trump referred to a favor he wanted “though” in exchange for the funds already appropriated by Congress. He said he wanted Ukraine to investigate allegations that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, profited from a business relationship that Hunter Biden had with a Ukrainian businessman.

Therein lies the violation, in my view.

You see, the president withheld money approved by Congress to aid a U.S. ally in its fight against a U.S. foe, Russia. Therefore, he put our national security at risk. Thus, he violated the oath he took to protect and defend the Constitution and to protect Americans against foreign adversaries.

Congressional Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry that appears headed toward a certain impeachment of the president. I don’t know what the inquiry will reveal. There will might be something to allegations that the president is actually profiting from his office, with foreign governments spending money at the glitzy resorts he still owns.

First things first. The inquiry needs to come to grips with this patently frightening notion that the president of the United States is stiffing an ally, benefiting an adversary and in the process putting Americans in jeopardy.

If it were up to me, I would call that an impeachable offense.

Is there any sense of propriety in the White House?

This is rich beyond belief.

The president of the United States apparently sees nothing wrong with the attorney general of the United States booking a spendy family party at a hotel the president owns.

Donald Trump and William Barr appeared made for each other.

The AG booked a party for Dec. 8 that will cost about $30,000 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Barr will pay for the party out of his own pocket.

But, my goodness, this appears to violate that knotty issue called the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution. The president is not supposed to profit financially while in office. Yet the attorney general is going to have a big family party at a Trump property, giving the president a healthy chunk of change.

There are ethics concerns about the wazoo, man.

According to FoxNews.com: “Career ethics officials were consulted and they determined that ethics rules did not prohibit him from hosting his annual party at the Trump hotel,” the DOJ official told The Post.

Of course the Justice Department wouldn’t see anything wrong it! Barr runs the department; Trump nominated Barr to become the nation’s top law enforcement official. Barr has been acting as Trump’s personal lawyer more than the nation’s top legal eagle.

Others do see a problem … as if it matters one damn bit to the attorney general, let alone the president.

Trump shows his self-punishment gluttony

Donald Trump surely must be a glutton for punishment.

He has left the G7 meeting in France and now wants to play host to the next summit of the world’s economic powers at his Florida resort at Doral.

Can you say “Emoluments Clause,” anyone? Anyone?

That’s the part of the U.S. Constitution that makes it illegal for presidents of the United States to profit from their public service. You know, taking gifts from the foreign heads of state, kings, princes and potentates. That kind of thing.

So why is Trump pitching this idea of playing host to G7 powers at his glitzy estates? He still owns the place. He is still earning a substantial living from it. He didn’t divest his financial interests after taking office as president.

I don’t get this one single bit.

Trump kept delivering impromptu infomercials to his fellow G7 participants.

Then there’s this: He wants Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to attend the next G7 summit. Yep, Russia. The country got booted out of the G7 because of its aggression against Ukraine. The member nations made the call.

Yet the dictator’s BFF, Donald Trump, wants to give him a pass. Bring him back, says Trump. Let’s make the G7 the G8, even though Russia is a third-rate economic power.

Trump is inviting more trouble for himself.


Tax returns: the gift that keeps on giving

Tax returns have, um, returned to the top of our awareness.

Not my tax returns. Or yours. I refer to the president of the United States.

You’ll recall when Donald Trump stiffed 40 years of political tradition by refusing to release his returns for public scrutiny. He said dubiously that he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. That was more than two years ago! He still hasn’t released them. He is showing not a single indication that he’ll do so voluntarily.

Presidential candidates of both parties since 1976 have released their tax returns in the spirit of full transparency. Trump talks about being transparent, then hides his returns.

They’re increasing in relevance to what has developed. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, likely knows what is in those returns. He likely knows about whether the president has invested in “Russia matters.” He likely knows whether the president has benefited materially from his office, which could be in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, the part that says presidents cannot accept money from foreign governments.

We’ll know in due course whether Mueller has those returns. We’ll know also in due course whether the special counsel has anything incriminating regarding those returns.

The idea that Trump has refused to release those returns because of an IRS audit falls apart on two levels. First, he’s never produced any evidence that the IRS is even auditing his tax returns. Second, the IRS — which doesn’t comment on individual audits — has made it clear that an audit does not preclude any public figure from making those returns public.

My direct plea to the special counsel is this: Make those returns available to those of us who want to know the truth behind our president’s financial dealings.

‘The Fixer’ on the verge of inflicting serious damage

Michael Cohen is no longer Donald Trump’s “Fixer.” He’s now seemingly ready to inflict some serious, possibly fatal, damage to Trump’s tenure as president of the United States.

I’m still trying to figure all this out. It’s complicated, folks.

Cohen, the president’s former confidant and lawyer, has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia. They appear to be far more extensive than he told Congress. He spent 70 hours talking to special counsel Robert Mueller about all of this.

Trump’s response has bordered on hysterical. He calls Cohen a “weak man” and a liar. He says he was entitled to do business with Russia as a candidate for president, but said he didn’t do it . . . but that he wouldn’t have broken the law had he done so.

Meanwhile, the president is continuing his all-out assault on Mueller and his legal team that is examining alleged “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Trump in trouble?

This is getting even messier than before, ladies and gents, if that is at all possible. It’s getting so messy that I am seeing some commentary from longtime Washington journalists and political operatives who suggest that “for the first time” they are wondering whether Trump will finish his term as president.

I won’t go there. I keep thinking about all the times Trump has avoided potentially mortal injury to his candidacy and then his presidency. He has wiggled free, largely owing to the devotion he still commands from his political “base” of voters and his Republican allies in Congress.

I guess we now might see just how devoted they all are if the evidence continues to pile up.

I have this sense that Robert Mueller has compiled a tremendous amount of evidence that is going to make the president’s life extremely uncomfortable.

So . . . the drama continues.

Presidency fattens POTUS’s wallet

I am acutely aware that I am not the first person to wonder aloud about this, but the president of the United States shouldn’t be fattening his personal finances because he happens to be the head of state.

The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits presidents from using their high office to take money from foreign governments. It remains to be seen whether Donald J. Trump has violated that provision.

This business of continuing to enrich himself here at home is equally galling … to me, at least.

Politico reports: Political groups supporting President Donald Trump are doubling as big-spending customers for the business empire he has not divested from.

Trump’s reelection campaign has spent $670,000 at Trump properties since he was elected president, and $125,000 during the first three months of this year alone, recent disclosures show.

Trump didn’t do what previous presidents customarily do when they assume their office. He retained ownership of his business empire, but placed his holdings in a trust run by sons Don Jr. and Eric. The last businessman-turned-president, Jimmy Carter, turned his peanut business over to a “blind trust” when he was elected in 1976.

Trump does it differently. He is profiting nicely at his myriad hotels, resorts and assorted business sites because of the job he holds.

I have said for a long time, before Trump even was elected president, that he built his career with one goal in mind: to enrich himself. He has done that quite well.

What is most galling is that Donald Trump is continuing to fatten his wallet even while ostensibly “serving the public” as president of the United States.

It’s all about Trump. Sickening.

Maybe he could ‘shoot someone on 5th Avenue … ‘

It occurs to me that Donald Trump’s most hideous bit of campaign braggadocio just might have had more than a nugget of truth to it.

He once stood at a 2016 presidential campaign podium and declared he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and I wouldn’t lose any votes.”

We laughed out loud. Many of us gasped in horror. Others of us simply shook our heads in disgust that a candidate for the presidency of the United States would actually say something so ghastly.

And, yes, others of us cheered him.

It is turning out that — maybe, possibly — that Trump’s boast might be more truthful than many of us thought in real time.

He’s got that “Russia thing” hanging over him. There are questions about whether his business dealings might violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Several women have accused him of sexual assault/harassment. Two women have alleged having sex with him while he was newly married to his third wife, the current first lady of the United States.

And still …

His core support remains solidly behind him. Granted the Trump “base” still comprises only about 35 to 40 percent of the total electorate. The rest of us remain highly skeptical, critical — and actually outraged — at the president’s conduct in office.

It’s looking for all the world to me, though, that he well might have spoken a bit of truth when he made the boast about “shooting someone on Fifth Avenue.”

Weird, man. Weird.

Hold up on ‘impeachment’ talk

Donald J. Trump may have committed a monumental mistake by divulging highly classified information to visiting Russian diplomats.

He well might have put some intelligence operations in jeopardy; indeed, let us pray we don’t lose any lives as a result of whatever he might have told the Russians who he welcomed into the Oval Office.

Social media are buzzing with talk about impeachment, that the president might have committed a treasonous act.

Let hold on here.

I detest Trump as much as the next guy. However, it’s good to realize that in order to be impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate, a president needs to commit a “high crime and misdemeanor.” Trump likely didn’t do anything illegal.

You can bet that he might have done something that is far more “careless” and “reckless” than anything Hillary Rodham Clinton did when she used her personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state. Did the president commit an impeachable offense?

It’s not likely.

Trump pops off

There well might be other grounds on which to impeach the president. I can think of obstruction of justice, for one thing, dealing with his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who at the time of his firing was in the middle of an investigation into whether Trump had an improper relationship with Russian government officials.

The Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution also might prove problematic for Trump as he continues to have interests in businesses that have dealings with foreign governments.

As outrageous as Trump’s relationship with Russia is proving to be, his reported carelessness with classified information doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.

The founders set a high standard for such an action, although President Clinton’s impeachment did seem to stretch far beyond what one would constitute grounds for impeachment. Congressional Republicans hung their impeachment vote on the president’s failure to speak the truth under oath to a federal grand jury which asked him about his relationship with that White House intern; U.S. senators, though, acquitted him in the trial that ensued.

It’s good to scale back the impeachment talk regarding Donald Trump as it relates to this latest bombshell. What he might have done stinks to high heaven and there well could be blowback. Impeachment? It doesn’t appear to be a natural consequence of what the president might have disclosed to his Russian guests.