Donald Trump is a lot of things, but competent businessman is not one of them. Even more so Donald Trump has never held public office before, and is by definition unqualified to become President of the United States. Furthermore, Donald Trump is a failed businessman with countless bankruptcies on his record. He was gifted his massive fortune, and has never had to work a single day in his life to afford his massive riches and material possessions.
He lives inside a golden penthouse suite atop of a skyscraper with his name on it, with an imported wife. He takes a private jet, again with his name on it, to his destinations, which he claims is a step up from Air Force One.
This man is a classic example of a narcissist, and couldn’t stop bragging about his countless failed businesses if his life depended on it. Additionally, he is a proven con man. He simply cons un-savvy business partners out of their money. From Trump University, to his many hotels, casinos, and other properties, he has gamed the system, and cheated investors out of their money. Donald Trump rose to power through threats, insults, and demagoguery.
He has disparaged, women, minorities, veterans, political opponents, protesters, and even voters. He has yet to show any sort of human decency that should be demanded from the Commander in Chief.
With that throat clearing out of the way, on to the main point, which is Donald Trump is so grossly incompetent and ignorant that he will almost certainly be in violation of the constitution or US law at some point during his presidency and likely to be impeached at some point in the near future.
This is based on the fact that some would argue that he has already committed impeachable offenses before even assuming office, which of course is unprecedented.
This argument stems from the fact that Donald Trump has refused to dis-invest his interests or relinquish any control over his many international businesses, even after being elected to public office. Not only does the Emolument Clause of the US constitution provide the groundwork for the impeachment of a president who receives funds from foreign governments, which would most definitely be the case dealing with Donald Trump’s international businesses, but US law also bars anyone with private information to trade on that information.
In other words, Donald Trump is not only in violation of the US Constitution, but also US law as well. To compound this issue, Donald Trump is most certainly in violation of nepotism laws, which bar public officials, especially in the white house, from appointing their relatives to other government positions.
When any public official takes office, they typically dis-invest their businesses into a blind trust to avoid any legal ramifications, however Donald Trump refuses to do so. This shows that he is actually in it for profit, and treating the oval office much like a business. In fact, many of his supporters literally want him to run the country more like a business, and it does seem like they are actually getting their wish.
However, the silver lining to all of this is that even if Donald Trump is indeed in violation of nepotism, insider trading, and emolument laws, the Republicans hold majority control of congress. Republicans will probably not move for impeachment, unless Donald Trump does something so significantly illegal, that not even they can pretend to not care. Some left wing democrats could make efforts to start the process, but so far they have not demonstrated that they have enough support to accomplish anything significant.
So this is where America is, an openly bigoted, incompetent narcissist with about as many conflicts of interests as he has bankruptcies as President. Under Donald Trump corruption might reach an all-time high. He has filled the swamp by appointing billionaires and executives to his cabinet. He has admitted that everything he said during the campaign were simply lies he told in order to rile up his supporters. During his rallies he has said numerous times that he would help make America great again, by focusing on immigration and the economy.
However so far it seems as though he has done the exact opposite. He has all but abandoned his positions on immigration, and is poised to completely destroy the economy by deregulating it to the point of almost total chaos. One thing is for sure, and that is this will be a rough 4 years for the working class and poor.
That is, if Donald Trump makes it that long. It may be the case that halfway through his first term, America descends into such a great depression, and that his many violations of the law become so blatant, that even Republicans move to impeach him. However, that may or may not happen after all, because the elite class in this country has shown time and time again that they can get away with almost anything and continue exist above the law.
Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats’ push to block Donald Trump’s conflicts of interests by invoking Emoluments Clause of Constitution
Trump must “divest his financial interests & place them in a blind trust,” Warren said, introducing her bill. As President-Elect Donald Trump cancels his first post-election press conference meant to address potential conflicts of interests while nominating Cabinet members with their own egregious conflicts of interests.
Elizabeth Warren is leading a group of Democrats in an effort to push-back by implementing the clause in the U.S. Constitution specifically written to prevent such improper webs.
The Massachusetts senator took to Twitter Thursday to outline her intentions to reinforce an obscure provision in the Consitution in January, as Trump is set to take office. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin, Chris Coons, Dick Durbin and Jeff Merkley, would require the president and vice president to “disclose and divest” any potential financial conflicts of interest:
“This has been the standard for previous presidents,” Warren said in a statement. “our bill makes clear the continuing expectation that President-elect Trump do the same.”
No law obliges Trump to sell his assets
While no law obliges Trump to sell his assets or place them in a blind trust (though nine of the 12 presidents since World War II have done so), Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the constitution states that no U.S. officeholder 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.” For decades, government agencies have used this clause to guide their ethics rulings.
Now, foreign governments are holding holiday events at Trump’s hotel in Washington D.C.’s historic Post Office Pavilion, which is owned by the federal government. An arrangement that will be unlawful as soon as Trump takes office.
So far, Trump’s only addressed his potential conflicts of interest by announcing that his two adult sons would lead the Trump Organization while he is president, but even that has sparked major concern as his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, have also attended crucial transition meetings.
According to Boston Magazine, Warren’s bill would not only reinforce the Emoluments Clause, applying it explicitly to the president and vice president, but also require Trump’s appointees to recuse themselves from any matters involving his financial conflicts of interest as they appear before their respective agencies.
Warren and the Democratic senators’ concern echoed those expressed by a Democrat in the House earlier this week.
“Each day, new entanglements between Mr. Trump’s business interests and American foreign policy are revealed,” New York Rep. Jerry Nadler said in a statement Thursday.
Nadler called upon members of the Senate to block all of Trump’s Cabinet appointments unless the real estate mogul submits to full divestment and disclosure from his personal assets.
Trump promises to bring to the presidency precisely the ‘tumult and disorder’ that Hamilton warned against
Since Nov. 9, Donald Trump has been described as our “President-elect.” But many would be shocked to learn that this term is actually legally meaningless. The Constitution sets out a specific hurdle for Trump to ascend to the presidency. And that will not happen until Dec. 19 when the members of the Electoral College meet in their respective states to vote for the President.
It’s these electors who actually hold power under the Constitution to select Donald Trump as president. They should take that responsibility very seriously. They owe it to all Americans to deliberate on their choice in the manner required by the Constitution.
The fact is that the Electoral College was primarily designed to stop a demagogue—a tyrannical mass leader who preys on our prejudices—from becoming President.
Consider what Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper Number 68. The Electors were supposed to stop a candidate with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming President. The Electors were supposed to be “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”
Constitutional Convention convened to ensure United States would break from the corrupt practices of the Old World.
They were to “possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations” as the selection of the President, and they were supposed to “afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder.” They were even supposed to prevent “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”
Hamilton was talking about demagogues. The word “demagogue” appears in both the first and last Federalist Papers; in Federalist Paper Number 1, for instance, Hamilton worried about the “military despotism of a victorious demagogue.”
Demagogues have to meet four criteria: first, they posture as a mirror of the masses, attacking elites. Second, they trigger great waves of emotion. Third, they use that emotion for political benefit. Fourth, they threaten or break established rules of governance.
Demagogues tend to turn democracy against itself
Demagogues tend to turn democracy against itself, from within, as we have vividly seen in recent years with the tyrannical Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (who imprisoned political opponents), the corrupt Silvio Berlusconi in Italy (who was convicted for corruption and for sex parties with underage women), and the brutal Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus (who runs a violent, oppressive regime).
For a long time, Trump was not a demagogue because he didn’t mirror the masses and because he didn’t threaten governance. But when he began openly posturing as a mirror of the masses and courting unlawfulness and even violence. In fact, he became a demagogue, which meant that he also crossed the line into a clear Constitutional danger zone, according to the Founding Fathers.
For that reason, the Electoral College was designed to prevent a demagogue from becoming president. It serves two purposes. One of them is to give small states power as well as big states and the cities. The other is to provide a mechanism where intelligent, thoughtful and statesmanlike leaders could deliberate on the winner of the popular vote and, if necessary, choose another candidate who would not put Constitutional values and practices at risk.
The electors are not supposed to rubber-stamp the popular vote.
In other words, the electors are not supposed to rubber-stamp the popular vote. They’re supposed to do the opposite—to take their responsibility gravely, to subject the winning popular vote candidate to exhaustive scrutiny, and, if the candidate does not meet Hamilton’s standards, to elect an alternative.
There is much for them to examine with Donald Trump. In his campaign and in his rocky and unsettling transition so far, Trump has run roughshod over fundamental Constitutional principles.
For instance, he sanctioned violence at his rallies and threatened to imprison his opponent. He threatened the independent press with libel actions and has barred the press from covering him. He has said he would force generals to comply with unlawful orders (for instance, regarding torture) and has threatened to abrogate alliances with treaty partners. And he has done all of these things while stoking prejudices, rage and fear in a way paralleled in our history only by other inarguable demagogues. And his transition so far has been an unsettling parade of erratic and autocratic decisions.
Because of these rules, the Electoral College has fallen into irrelevancy.
Electors are chosen by their respective state political parties. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws in place requiring their electors to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote. But those laws usually impose just small penalties, and Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe has said that even those fines are Constitutionally suspect and may not be enforced by a court.
Because of these rules, the Electoral College has fallen into irrelevancy. This year’s election, in particular, the candidacy of Donald Trump, provides them with every reason to perform their job in accordance with Federalist #68.
There are several reasons to think that a revolt against Trump could take place among Republican electors. There’s the fact that Trump ran against the Republican Party and their leaders, viciously attacking many respected national leaders. There’s the fact that he was unable to win the popular vote—at most recent count over a million votes behind Hillary Clinton.
Trump promises to bring to the presidency precisely the “tumult and disorder” that Hamilton warned against.
And then there’s the fact that Trump promises to bring to the presidency precisely the “tumult and disorder” that Hamilton warned against.
The electors were supposed to be statesmen. Even though recent years have seen a decline in statesmanship in America, they could be reborn this year. Statesmen truly have our greater good truly at heart, pursuing the broader purpose of America and calming the passions.
If these men and women live up to that noble goal on Dec. 19, they will truly make American great again.
When the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia to debate and write a new constitution for the United States, there was a concerted effort to ensure that the new nation would break from the corrupt practices of the Old World.
European kings and princes bestowed gifts and payments to diplomats, dignitaries and politicians in their own legislatures and in foreign states. To the new Americans, these gifts and payments could corrupt the new nation’s sovereignty. They had already thrown off control by the British crown, and many questioned the growing relationship with their new ally, France. Some U.S. generals during the revolution were found to have accepted payment from these foreign states. Those debating the Constitution did not want to divorce themselves from the politics of Europe, but they also wanted to insulate the new government from these inducements to corruptions.
As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 22, “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.”
Article I, Section 9, Clause 8: the Emoluments Clause clearly states against the foreign corruption of U.S. government and military officials
The answer to this question was written into Article I, Section 9, Clause 8: the Emoluments Clause. It is a very broad and clear statement against the foreign corruption of U.S. government and military officials:
“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.”
“We weren’t going to fight the revolution, have a Constitution and next thing you know members of Congress and the president are getting stipends from the British Crown or from the French,” said Richard Painter, former ethics advisor to President George W. Bush. “We’re not going to allow that type of foreign corruption to get into our country.”
The election of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump to the presidency has suddenly swung the Emoluments Clause out of the “odd clauses” closet and into the center of political controversy. Ethics experts and constitutional law scholars have raised the specter that the president of the United States will be in direct violation of the Constitution on the day he takes office, with his many business deals in foreign countries, a hotel soon to be frequented by foreign dignitaries and hundreds of millions in debt to the government-owned Bank of China.
When he takes the oath to uphold the Constitution he would be lying
“When he takes the oath to uphold the Constitution he would be lying,” said Laurence Tribe, constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School. “He can’t uphold the Constitution, one of whose central provisions he would be a walking, talking violation of.”
While there is some scholarly debate over whether the Emoluments Clause does apply to the president, for most of American history U.S. presidents have acted as though it has. The Congressional Research Service says that the clause is one of a handful of ethics statutes that “potentially” apply to the president. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has routinely ruled on whether the president and other lower officers could receive certain gifts, titles or emoluments (this basically just means payments) under the clause. The record also goes back before the existence of the Office of Legal Counsel and the Department of Justice. These past rulings and actions show a record of government lawyers and past presidents applying the clause to the presidency for close to 200 years.
A 2009 OLC opinion that determined President Barack Obama could accept the monetary award that came with the Nobel Peace Prize stated rather clearly that the president “surely” holds an office that would fall under the Emoluments Clause. A past opinion on the government of Ireland’s bestowal of Irish citizenship on President John Kennedy presumed the clause applied to the presidency as well.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States
President Andrew Jackson was a recipient of a gold medal given by the Latin American revolutionary turned Colombian president Simon Bolivar. Under the belief that he could not accept such a gift without the consent of Congress, Jackson asked for their advice on whether he could keep it. Congress determined that he could not.
In 1840, merchants sailing from the Middle East informed President Martin Van Buren that they carried with them many gifts for him from the imam of Muscat (present-day Oman). The imam had sent two Arabian horses, rose oil and rose water, cashmere shawls, a Persian rug and a sword for the president. Van Buren was under the assumption that the Emoluments Clause forbade these gifts, but he also did not want to insult the imam and send them back with the merchants. He asked Congress if the gifts could be sold and the proceeds deposited into the Treasury. They voted to allow this.
This same gift sale repeated itself when the imam sent the president two more horses in 1843. Congress eventually ruled in 1845 that the horses could be sold and the profit given to the Treasury.
President George Washington received gifts from both the French ambassador to the United States and from the Marquis de Lafayette.
There is one person who seemed to think that the clause did not apply to him. President George Washington received gifts from both the French ambassador to the United States and from the Marquis de Lafayette. The latter sent Washington the key to the Bastille after its storming during the early days of the French Revolution. This occurred when Lafayette was a member of the Estates-General and commander in chief of the national guard.
Where precedent points toward the clause applying to the president, a further dispute arises over whether it simply covers gifts or other payments.
Its language is deliberately very broad, that it covers any kind of payment, not just a gratuity or a gift, but an ordinary payment to a profit-making enterprise,” Tribe said.
Norm Eisen, the former top ethics advisor to Obama and former ambassador to the Czech Republic, notes that there is some dispute as to whether the payment must be favorable or any fair market payment.
Some scholars say it’s any payment, say it has to be a payment that is not an exchange for consideration
“Some scholars say it’s any payment,” he said. “Some scholars say it has to be a payment that is not an exchange for consideration ― more than a fair arms length exchange.”
The nature of Trump’s business enterprise, however, makes it very difficult to determine whether the business successes he has during his administration are won fair and square. When a foreign government green-lights permits for a new Trump-named building, or if he or his business partners are granted tax breaks from those governments, it will be impossible to know whether he received those because of his government position. The same goes for the business that foreign governments are already directing to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Would these governments rent out event space or luxury rooms if he were not the president?
One area that is rather unprecedented is that these payments would be going to a corporation and would eventually materialize as profit for Trump. The key here is that the Trump Organization is a privately held corporation and is, in essence, an extension of Trump. If it were a publicly held corporation these questions would probably not arise, although potential conflicts of interest could still certainly exist, as they did for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Acceptance of member’s partnership would constitute a prohibited emolument
As for whether the Emoluments Clause applies to payments to a corporation that distributes profit to the government official in question, there is at least one OLC opinion that presents some kind of answer. In 1993, members of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an agency that includes unpaid private citizens advising the government on administrative procedure law, asked whether the receipt of payment from partnership earnings at a law firm that held foreign governments as paying clients would be a violation of the clause even if the recipient did not work with the foreign government client. The opinion ruled that this payment through partnership earnings would indeed be prohibited under the clause.
“Because the amount the Conference member would receive from the partnership’s profits would be a function of the amount paid to the firm by the foreign government, the partnership would in effect be a conduit for that government,” the opinion reads. “Thus, some portion of the member’s income could fairly be attributed to a foreign government. We believe that acceptance of that portion of the member’s partnership share would constitute a prohibited emolument.”
For these questions alone, Eisen, Tribe and Painter believe Trump needs to totally divest himself from his business, liquidate the assets and place the profit into a true blind trust governed by an independent trustee who is not one of his children.
The Office of Government Ethics issued a memorandum in 1983 stating that presidents should act as though the laws apply to them.
Federal ethics laws do not mandate this, but previous presidents have acted as though it does. The Office of Government Ethics issued a memorandum in 1983 stating that presidents should act as though the laws apply to them.
As for whether the Emoluments Clause can be adjudicated in any legal manner, the only recourse appears to be the extreme action of impeachment.
“The remedy in the Constitution for someone who does that kind of thing would be impeachment,” Painter said. “You do not want to go in that direction.”
That is why the suggestion to liquidate Trump’s assets and place the profits in a blind trust may be an extremely onerous move, but, the experts believe, would be essential to maintain the integrity of national sovereignty that the Constitution demands.
Transfer of business to children does little for concerns about conflicts of interest or Emolument Clause.
So far, Trump has said that he will hand his business over to his three adult children, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. He has also appointed them to the executive committee of his presidential transition, negating any separation between government and corporation. On Wednesday he tweeted that he would announce a full plan for his transferal of the business to his children on Dec. 15.
The simple temporary transfer of the business from the president-elect to his children during his term in office does little to assuage concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest or even the Emoluments Clause.
“The family business is essentially occupying or about to occupy the White House,” Tribe said. “And the idea that that can be done consistent with our Constitution is hard to square with either the language of the document or its original purposes or with our history. We’ve never experienced anything like this.”