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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,998
November 28, 2019
Should Trump Be Impeached?
By Mike McManus

I filed my first column calling for the impeachment Trump in June, 2017. I cited three grounds for his removal from the White House. None have been covered in the recent Impeachment hearings of the House:

1.The President tried to halt the Mueller FBI investigation into Russian support for the election of Trump by denying the existence of any evidence between the campaign and Russia. However, Trump acknowledged in an NBC interview with Lester Holt that he fired FBI Director James Comey over "this Russian thing." His statement reminded me of Nixon's attempt in Watergate to block an FBI investigation.

2.The Attorneys General of Maryland and Washington D.C. have filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating anti-corruption laws through the ownership of companies that have accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments. The Constitution prohibits U.S. office holders from accepting "any present Emolument... from any King, Prince or foreign state."

The Attorneys General charge the President's interest in a global business empire "renders him deeply enmeshed with a legion of foreign and domestic government actors, violates the Constitution and calls into question the rule of law and the integrity of the country's political system."

3.Nearly 200 Members of Congress and the Senate filed a similar lawsuit accusing the President of violating the Constitution by profiting from business dealings with foreign governments. It charges that the "officeholder should not be the sole judge of his own integrity."

Trump's response was that he has turned the management of his businesses over to his sons and that he would donate any profits to the Treasury. To date he has turned over no profits.

The Trump International Hotel, a few blocks from the White House, is packed with international guests - though its prices are two to seven times those of other comparable Washington hotels. The historic nearby Mayflower Renaissance Hotel charges $119 for a standard room and $175 for a suite.

By contrast, the Trump Hotel is $395 for a regular room this week and $745 a week later, after Thanksgiving.

Interestingly, the Trump Hotel was formerly a U.S. Post Office, and is still owned by the Federal Government. Before he became president, Trump won a federal contract to operate the hotel in the historic building.

Contrast Trump's flagrant disregard of the Constitution's bar of "Emolument" with what President Obama did when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He asked the Justice Department whether he could accept the $1.4 million prize. He got a 13-page letter from Attorney General David Barron, which stated that the prize would be prohibited if it came from the Norwegian government, but it was awarded by a independent committee in Norway funded by private groups.

The Constitution states that the president shall receive "a Compensation" for his services and shall not receive "any other Emolument from the United States or any of the several states."

Trump went to federal court to block the Maryland-Washington D.C. lawsuit that alleges he is violating the Constitution's Emolument clause. However, Federal Judge Peter Messitte ruled their lawsuit was legal and should proceed.

Messite's 52-page opinion said the Constitution's ban on Emoluments could cover any business transactions with foreign governments where President Trump derived a "profit, gain or advantage." He said "This includes profits from private transactions, even those involving services given at fair market value."

In the past year, the Trump Organization has held several large events paid for by foreign governments and reported about $150,000 in what it called "foreign profits" last year.

"In sum, Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the President has been receiving or is potentially able to receive emoluments...in violation of the Constitution," Messitte wrote in his opinion.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine was exultant: "We are one step closer to stopping President Trump from violating the Constitution's original anti-corruption provisions."

Unfortunately, the Circuit Court of Appeals voted this week to turn down the appeal.

However, my question remains. Why has the Trump Impeachment effort not examined his apparent violation of the Constitution's "Emolument" clause, which has enabled him to earn millions without any criticism from witnesses over two weeks of Impeachment hearings?

Surely his Emolument violations deserve scrutiny by Rep Adam Schiff and other Members of Congress, don't they?

__________________________

Copyright (c) 2019 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.com. Hit Search for any topic.

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