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Pierce writes: "Over the weekend, you may recall, the president* leaped onto the electric Twitter machine to announce that the United States would be helping Chinese communications giant ZTE find relief from his own trade policies."

President Trump. (photo: Getty)
President Trump. (photo: Getty)

The President* Is Tap Dancing on the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

16 May 18

How stupid do they think we are?

n Monday, there was a hilarious moment at the daily White House press briefing that did not involve Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The administration*’s second-string prevaricator, Raj Shah, came out and he was asked about the latest example of how this presidency* is such a marvelous environment for coincidence.

Over the weekend, you may recall, the president* leaped onto the electric Twitter machine to announce that the United States would be helping Chinese communications giant ZTE find relief from his own trade policies. Casual observers noted that the Trump Organization is involved in a huge project in Indonesia—golf courses, resorts, etc.—that is backed with $500 million from China. This came up at the Monday briefing, as did the obvious fact that the project pretty much does yet another tap-dance on the emoluments clause of the Constitution.

Noah Bierman of the Los Angeles Times was particularly curious on this score, and on how this project squares with the president*’s promise not to engage in any new foreign enterprises while he was in office. This was the answer Shah gave him.

“I’ll have to refer you to the Trump Organization.”

Bierman followed up. Here was the next answer.

“You’re asking about a private organization’s dealings that may have to do with a foreign government. It’s not something I can speak to.”

This stinks to high heaven. William of Ockham is very clean-shaven this morning, and there’s no fun in following the money if it isn’t even going to bother to hide. your social media marketing partner


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+23 # Brewsir 2018-05-16 09:16
Tap dance? I've seen tap dancing but never from a fish, a jelly fish. Some do have highly developed poisons and senses. The species whom you accuse of possessing Bojangles like skills just seems to float. I continue waiting for evidence of activity in centres unrelated to food intake and outlet.
-3 # Magginkat 2018-05-16 16:54
What in heaven's name are you talking about?
+72 # BetaTheta 2018-05-16 09:51
Our government is in the grip of a crime family, and the reflexive wealth worshipers seem to think that is just fine, as our president* is a "great businessman." The term "business ethics" has become an oxymoron in America.
+9 # economagic 2018-05-16 11:24
Somebody yesterday was remarking that in terms of corruption T-Rump is not quite in a league with, say, Warren G. Harding. If that is the case, he is closing fast (no pun intended).
+7 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-05-16 20:02
Harding was more stupid than corrupt; Trump excels at both.
+11 # Robbee 2018-05-16 11:56
28 March 2018, the Post

A federal judge ruled that the District of Columbia and Maryland may proceed with a lawsuit against President Trump alleging that Trump’s business dealings have violated the Constitution’s ban on receiving improper “emoluments,” or payments, from individual states and foreign governments.

The ruling, by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Maryland, marks the first time that a lawsuit of this kind has cleared the initial legal hurdle — a finding that the plaintiffs have legal standing to sue the president.

In his opinion, Messitte gave credence to arguments by D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) that Trump unfairly profits from business at downtown Washington’s Trump International Hotel, in which the president continues to hold a financial interest.

Messitte cited examples of government clients — including Kuwait and Bahrain — 
patronizing the Washington hotel, possibly to the detriment of competitors and taxpayers. He wrote that Maryland and the District had sufficiently argued that Trump’s hotel “has had and almost certainly will continue to have an unlawful effect on competition.”

As part of that ruling, Messitte said he rejected an argument made by critics of the lawsuit — that, under the Constitution, only Congress may decide whether the president has violated the emoluments clauses.

(to be cont'd)
+6 # Robbee 2018-05-16 12:06

“In absence of Congressional approval, this Court holds that it may review the actions of the President to determine if they comply with the law,” Messitte wrote.

If the ruling stands, it could allow Racine and Frosh to seek internal documents from the Trump Organization to determine how much money the Washington hotel has taken in from state and foreign governments.

Messitte’s ruling largely narrowed the lawsuit’s scope to the Washington hotel, saying that the District and Maryland had standing to sue because they could plausibly claim to have been injured by Trump’s receipt of payments from foreign and state governments.

For one thing, he said, the two jurisdictions have financial interests in their own convention centers — one in downtown Washington, another in Bethesda, Md. They argued that the Trump hotel had an unfair advantage in the battle for meeting business.

In addition, the court said, the District and Maryland could speak on behalf of their own businesses, which might also see clients lured away by the chance to do business with the president.

“The Court concludes that [the District and Maryland] are, quite plausibly, trying to protect a large segment of their commercial residents and hospitality industry employees from economic harm,” he wrote.

Messitte also raised examples of state governments having to make decisions related to the president’s company,

(to be cont’d)
+7 # Robbee 2018-05-16 12:16

which Frosh and Racine termed an “intolerable dilemma” between losing revenue or risking repercussions from the president. The judge cited a decision by District tax officials to lower the Trump hotel’s tax bill by nearly $1 million and a $6 million tax break being granted to a Trump-affiliate d development by Mississippi officials.

Although Trump said he gave up day-to-day management of his business while he is in the White House, he still owns his businesses and can withdraw money from them at any time.

In an interview, Frosh said that “The basic principle here is Donald Trump is not above the law, and the court recognized that and said that we can enforce the nation’s original anti-corruption law — the emoluments clause.”

This case was filed last year, one of a raft of lawsuits in the months after Trump’s inauguration, all of them alleging that he was violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses.

Those clauses bar federal officers from taking presents, or emoluments, from a foreign state. The other prohibits presidents from taking side payments from a foreign state.

The first step in all these cases has been an argument over what lawyers call “standing” — in essence, determining whether the plaintiff has a right to sue.

In December, for instance, a federal judge threw out one of the emoluments lawsuits, brought by the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

(to be cont’d)
+7 # Robbee 2018-05-16 12:23

U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled that the watchdog group lacked standing. He stated that the Constitution gave Congress — and only Congress — the right to enforce these rules.
In his ruling Wednesday, Messitte rejected that idea.

“The thrust of the President’s argument that only Congress can act is particularly concerning,” he wrote in a footnote. “Suppose a majority of Congress is controlled by one party — that of the President. And suppose the Congress never undertakes to approve or disapprove the President’s receipt of such ‘emoluments.’ ”

“The President could continue to receive unlimited ‘emoluments’ from foreign and state governments without the least oversight and with absolute impunity,” Messitte wrote.

The Justice Department, which is representing the president in this case, did not immediately say whether it would appeal.
+13 # Salus Populi 2018-05-16 13:52
Just imagine if Obama had done even one one-hundredth the corrupt practices of this maladministrati on. Say what you will about his policies, and I have never shied away from criticizing the crimes against humanity committed by his clique, he at least was reasonably honest in his personal use of the presidency. Here we have a person with not only no scruples, but no sense of ethics whatsoever, and the Republicans who spent the entire eight years of the last administration tying to find a means of driving him out of office are now as quiet as dead lambs about the conversion of the Oval Office into the offal orifice by this _capo di tutti capi_ in the Bleak House.
+14 # Texas Aggie 2018-05-16 18:52
Ah, Mr. Shah, we are talking about the president* of the United States, not just a private entity. You are his spokesman. You most certainly can too speak to his dealings with a foreign government. Now answer the question.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-05-18 05:39
I have a hard time caring about "emoluments" when Israelis are shooting Palestinians in cold blood and Trump and his puppet master the psychopath Netanyahoo are ramping up to a war against Iran.

The "emoluments" crowd is still hoping for an impeachment. It is not going to happen. It would be much better to focus on true progressive democratic candidates for 2018. The "emoluments" argument will probably work in favor of republicans because it is so clearly an impeachment strategy.

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