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?