Ahah!! Caught in the act.

Moving the conversation over from the Stevens/2nd Amendment post, I thought it worthy of its own home. Hopefully The Judge can move his response to my query over here.

So here is the question; why must a sitting president divest himself of all businesses that he created before getting elected? Yes, it is obvious that some conflicts of interest could present itself if left unattended, but this is not what Trump did. Why must a successful businessman sell all of his babies? Yeah, babies. I say that creating, nurturing, rearing enterprises from birth into vibrant power house businesses makes the baby analogy valid.

I don’t remember reading about the Founding Fathers divesting themselves from their farms or business enterprises. In fact, Washington was constantly in correspondence with the property overseer the entire time in the White House (OK, there wasn’t an actual White House then, but you know what I mean). Do you think he got a parcel of land, a slave, or farming equipment at a discount because he was President?

Yes, the original emoluments clause was written to shield against “corrupting foreign influences”, so I guess the last guy is off the hook for all those team jerseys he received free of charge. Receiving gifts, something for nothing, with an implied quid pro quo, or not, on its face it is fraught with peril. Not only are the optics bad, to say, “Why is he giving me this, what does he expect in return”; but now the debt is forever hanging with the question, “How can I be an honest broker with this guy after I accepted a gratuity?”

And with presidents being full of themselves, past and present, to the point of being the biggest narcissists in living memory the prevailing attitude is, “He just wants to acknowledge how awesome I am.” I would be giving gifts to myself if I were he. Reminds me of an old Jesse Unruh line, “If you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, and fuck their women, without promising anything in return, you don’t belong in politics”.

Much hay was made today by the refusal of a judge to dismiss a current lawsuit against Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause with foreigners patronizing his hotels, particularly in DC.  In reading further we find out that he ruled against just the “no legal standing” motion to dismiss. Of course there are several other motions to throw out the case, which will be ruled on at a later date.

In regards to this particular hotel, Trump has said he will give all profits from foreign guests to charity. Personally, I think this a mistake. No doubt he did it to curry favor with his opponents and demonstrate a concern for even the appearance of impropriety. They don’t care and will excoriate him regardless. Take the money; it was earned fair and square. Any gestures he makes in this regard will be spat on, so don’t even bother.

The hotel in question operates like any other hotel, it sells rooms. The hotel sold rooms before he got elected, they sell rooms now. They also have a staff to pay for and expenses commiserate with operating a hotel. If foreign guests were paying for something that they did not get, then yeah, that would be an emoluments problem. But how on earth does a foreign guest staying at this hotel in any way translate into a “gift?”

Here’s a twist. Let’s say the penthouse suite went for one large before he got elected but now, Donny Jr. thinks they can charge way more because daddy in the White House so now the going rate is two grand. Even this is capitalism at its finest, supply and demand, and there’s nothing unethical about it. Is the Trump hotel the only one in D.C.? Is anyone forcing foreign guests to stay there? Why is a free voluntary exchange of services, a hotel room for a set price, in any way tawdry or criminal?

Keeping one’s business affairs in order and in place is exactly the concept Jefferson envisioned with his citizen /politician model (smart successful entrepreneurs taking a temporary pause from their selected avocation to fulfill their civic duty in Washington, then returning to private life with their livelihood still intact).  Why are we discouraging that in favor of the idea that people should enter politics and then become obscenely wealthy?

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Judge Dredd, Pro Se

There’s actually a couple of problems you have with your thought process here: 1.) that gift giving violates the emoluments clause. I think the specific language is payment for a service or “compensation in receipt of a service” not the idea of gift giving. 2.) your concept of jacking up the going rate of a room by Goober trump as the height of capitalism, when in actuality THAT would be the black letter violation in the eyes of ethics scholars and legal scholars in the debate. The judge narrowed the scope of the complaint to DC and Maryland, so far… Read more »

Appointing a trustee, someone he has confidence in to run all the businesses

That’s just it though. He doesn’t have confidence or trust in anyone but family. It’s a principle that served him well in business, but doesn’t mix well with politics.

Is he still making income from his properties while President? That might be a problem.

Are you 100% sure that Trump would make a decision that would benefit America if it meant his business went bust? How about a President Clinton/Obama/Bush? That’s the tricky thing about governmental ethics – the appearance or suggestion of corruption can be just as damaging. But I guess my question back to you is not about whether he’s technically violating the emoluments clause – it’s about whether you’re comfortable trusting that this and all future presidents of the United States will always put the people of the USA before themselves and their families – even if it’s in secret. Where’s… Read more »

Are you 100% sure that Trump would make a decision that would benefit America if it meant his business went bust? I’m sure enough. This is based on looking at the decline in his net worth he’s suffered since running for president. I’m sufficiently convinced that Trump didn’t decide to become president as a Get Rich(er) Scheme, but I understand that this isn’t satisfactory for everyone. How about a President Clinton/Obama/Bush? Of those three, the only one where I would’ve seen a potential conflict with the Emoluments Clause would have been in a Hillary Clinton presidency since the Clinton Foundation… Read more »

False equivalence. There is no evidence that his businesses are at risk of going bust. It was a hypothetical. (But I will point out that there is no evidence that his businesses aren’t at risk of going bust. A couple of tax returns would help..) My point was that there should be all attempt to remove anything that might influence a presidents decision making away from what’s best for the country. Imagine President Lefty McLiberalface comes into office, but doesn’t divest himself of her Kale Smoothie business, or put it into a blind trust. Would you trust her to decide… Read more »

The problem with whataboutism is that it works both ways.

So you’re saying that the Pelosi thing and the Clinton Foundation thing were fine?

like when the last guy went nuts trashing the Constitution with his Executive Orders, it just makes it easier for the next guy to think he can get away with the same crap.

Exactly.

But to answer your question, no, we will not do what the left has done when their guys were caught dirty, and this doesn’t just apply to Trump. No politician should be putting their wife or kids on the payroll, throw them government contracts or let them jet around on government planes. Wait, Trump has done most of that. The only thing that bothers me is the kids on the payroll/contracts. When you have some time and need a laugh read up on government employee ethics standards. Wives don’t really have any other way to travel around safely. I do… Read more »

Judge Dredd, Pro Se

While it’s debatable that trump may be exempted from the emoluments clause, and I’m certain that will be his response to the current lawsuit, shiulkin is inarguably in violation of the emoluments clause because he’s an appointee, not an elected official. My problem with the shiulkin firing is my problem with every move this administration makes. While shiulkin is a prime example of “draining the swamp” and holding him accountable is delicious schadenfreude, I can’t (in good conscience) trust the motivations for trump firing him. This administration has lied or obfuscated at every turn and isn’t shy about being completely… Read more »

I don’t like it one bit

Ok. Yes, the rules are somewhat different for Presidents. It is largely tolerated by Republicans, at least publicly. He should not have been allowed to put Ivanka and Jared in his administration and his entourage should not be staying at his own hotels because even if he has divested himself, his kids are not supposed to benefit. Ethics is all about appearance of impropriety as well as actual impropriety. In government, you can’t even take your boss to lunch without consulting an ethics manual.

Kennedy gave his brother the top cop position, and was a trusted adviser.

Not sure that this would happen today. A sibling on the cabinet would be a hard sell. I mean, surely there are good candidates available from a pool of nonrelatives?

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