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  #1  
Old 06-12-2017, 08:13 AM
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DC, Maryland sue Trump over alleged constitutional violations


D.C. and Maryland to sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath
Quote:
Originally Posted by WaPo
Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland say they will sue President Trump on Monday, alleging that he has violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House.
I'd love to hear a discussion of this. On the one hand, it seems very clear to me that the president has violated the emoluments clause. Going against that are three factors:
1) I may be predisposed to believe bad things about Trump, and I want to work against that.
2) I'm not sure that there are any legal remedies, short of impeachment, for constitutional violations like this.
3) Even if there are, I'm not sure if the Maryland/DC Attorneys General have standing to file such a lawsuit.

What do the legal minds here think of this case?

(I'm surprised there's no thread on this yet; if I missed a GD or Elections thread on it, my apologies.)

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 06-12-2017 at 08:14 AM.
  #2  
Old 06-12-2017, 08:23 AM
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Oh what a day! What a LOVELY day!

The question of standing is foremost in my mind, since all else follows after that.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:25 AM
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I don't have a legal mind, but to say the lawsuits face an uphill battle is a bit of understatement.

For example -
Quote:
Government officials overseeing the Trump International Hotel’s lease with the federal government have determined the deal is in “full compliance” despite a clause in the agreement barring any “elected official of the government of the United States” from deriving “any benefit.”
Cite.

From your cite -
Quote:
“In the emoluments clauses, we have these ancient air bags that were placed in the Constitution by the framers that are now being deployed,” said Eisen, who has been advising the District and Maryland on their suit.
ISTM that the air bags in question aren't in the Constitution - they are in DC and Maryland.

Hope springs eternal, but no, this isn't going anywhere.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:25 AM
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Who would normally have standing in such a case?
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:28 AM
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NPR this morning said that various hotels and convention centers in Maryland and DC may have standing as they're losing business because events are booking in Trump properties to curry favor.

It'll be an interesting suit. At a minimum, it's one more thing to distract and annoy him and at which he will - no doubt - lash out on Twitter. Every time he touches his phone he's one misstep away from implicating himself in something.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:28 AM
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Who would normally have standing in such a case?
Congress can begin impeachment proceedings. That's it.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:36 AM
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Who would normally have standing in such a case?
Trump created joinder, so anyone can sue under the Admirality code.

On a less serious note, Congress would have to change the law, because it exempts the President and Vice-President.
Quote:
Congress, under Title 18 Section 208 of the U.S. code, did exempt the president and vice president from conflict-of-interest laws on the theory that the presidency has so much power that any possible executive action might pose a potential conflict.
Cite.

Supposedly "high crimes and misdemeanors" can mean anything Congress wants. Supposing Congress changes the law (it won't) and then impeaches Trump ex post facto. I wonder if the Supreme Court could rule that such a charge un-Constitutional under Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3?

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Old 06-12-2017, 08:41 AM
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Congress can't pass a law to undermine the constitution. This is a constitutional issue, not a matter of statute interpretation.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:46 AM
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Supposedly "high crimes and misdemeanors" can mean anything Congress wants. Supposing Congress changes the law (it won't) and then impeaches Trump ex post facto. I wonder if the Supreme Court could rule that such a charge un-Constitutional under Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3?
Like you say, "high crimes and misdemeanors" can mean anything Congress wants. That should answer your question.

Seriously, if they want to impeach him over something that's not a statutory violation, they can. If they want to enact a statute in order to give themselves a statutory fig leaf that makes them feel better about impeaching him, that's fine too, but the presence or absence of the statute doesn't alter the reach of their impeachment power.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Congress can't pass a law to undermine the constitution. This is a constitutional issue, not a matter of statute interpretation.
Do you mean that the exemption is un-Constitutional? Or am I not understanding you?

Regards,
Shodan
  #11  
Old 06-12-2017, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Trump created joinder, so anyone can sue under the Admirality code.

On a less serious note, Congress would have to change the law, because it exempts the President and Vice-President.
"The law" that this case suggests the president violated is in the Constitution. Are you saying that Congress passed a law exempting the president from following requirements in the constitution?
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:57 AM
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Do you mean that the exemption is un-Constitutional? Or am I not understanding you?

Regards,
Shodan
The challenge is against the emoluments clause in the constitution. Congress can't exempt the president from that clause without amending the constitution. Conflict of interest is different from emoluments.

Last edited by John Mace; 06-12-2017 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:57 AM
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Do you mean that the exemption is un-Constitutional? Or am I not understanding you?

Regards,
Shodan
I think what he's saying is that Trump isn't in violation of the conflict of interest law, but of the enolments clause of the Constitution.
  #14  
Old 06-12-2017, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Are you saying that Congress passed a law exempting the president from following requirements in the constitution?
I'm not saying Congress did that, but if they did, it would be fine:

Quote:
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.
The emoluments stuff only applies when Congress hasn't acted to allow it. If they have done so here (which, again, I'm not saying they have), it's an example of the Constitution being followed, not an example of it being violated.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 06-12-2017 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:02 AM
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It'll be an interesting suit. At a minimum, it's one more thing to distract and annoy him and at which he will - no doubt - lash out on Twitter. Every time he touches his phone he's one misstep away from implicating himself in something.
This. Yet another distraction to (hopefully) erode his support and interfere with his ability to do even more unfortunate things than he is.

***(I realize nothing will likely erode support within his base, but it could further discourage Congress form openly supporting him, and could discourage individuals from wishing to openly join his team.)
  #16  
Old 06-12-2017, 09:02 AM
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Like you say, "high crimes and misdemeanors" can mean anything Congress wants. That should answer your question.

Seriously, if they want to impeach him over something that's not a statutory violation, they can. If they want to enact a statute in order to give themselves a statutory fig leaf that makes them feel better about impeaching him, that's fine too, but the presence or absence of the statute doesn't alter the reach of their impeachment power.
It sounds like it would be a bad idea to pass a law to give them a fig leaf, because then (perhaps) SCOTUS could strike it down as ex post facto. Don't give them that excuse - just impeach for a high crime or misdemeanor that isn't against any law. And yes, I agree that Congress could do that.

But then the DC and Maryland Attorneys General don't need to point to any violation of the Emoluments clause either - Congress can impeach for things that aren't forbidden by the Constitution either.

But that goes back to what I have said in the past - if Congress is going to impeach a President, they have to have a good reason, or at least a reason that makes sense to the roughly half the country that voted for Trump, as well as voters who didn't but value the rule of law.

I didn't vote for Trump, but if some Republican voted to impeach Trump or to remove him from office without a statutory violation that could be proven, I would like to see that Republican's ass booted out of Congress faster than possible.

"Trump sux so bad we need to remove him from office even if he hasn't broken the law"? Fuck that noise. We are a nation of laws, not men, or at least we should be if we want to survive.

Regards,
Shodan
  #17  
Old 06-12-2017, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
D.C. and Maryland to sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath

I'd love to hear a discussion of this. On the one hand, it seems very clear to me that the president has violated the emoluments clause. Going against that are three factors:
1) I may be predisposed to believe bad things about Trump, and I want to work against that.
2) I'm not sure that there are any legal remedies, short of impeachment, for constitutional violations like this.
3) Even if there are, I'm not sure if the Maryland/DC Attorneys General have standing to file such a lawsuit.

What do the legal minds here think of this case?

(I'm surprised there's no thread on this yet; if I missed a GD or Elections thread on it, my apologies.)
I'm not entirely sure I've ever really understood the Emoulments Clause argument, and the linked article doesn't really provide much information (and I don't see a link to the complaint). The fact that the aiml of the suit seems to be to get (and presumably leak?) Trump's pre-presidency tax returns makes me doubt the legal merits.

That said, even assuming a constitutional violation, I would think that impeachment is the only remedy. What else could there be? An injunction requiring the President to divest the entire Trump Organization to non-members of the family? A court certainly isn't going to remove him from office.
  #18  
Old 06-12-2017, 09:10 AM
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The challenge is against the emoluments clause in the constitution. Congress can't exempt the president from that clause without amending the constitution. Conflict of interest is different from emoluments.
Then see what Lord Feldon cited from the Constitution.

What do the lawsuits say are violations by Trump of the Emoluments clause that haven't been approved by Congress in the conflict of interest exemption?

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:16 AM
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I'm pretty sure there's no case law, but I looked around a bit when this theory was first floated, and pre-existing commentary has treated the emoluments clauses as bribery prohibitions. Simply doing business in the private economy at ordinary market rates would not qualify. More recent conservative commentary has pointed out that if mere participation in private business was enough, then President Obama's book sales would have violated the domestic emoluments clause.

Certainly, a court could go in any direction with it, of course.
  #20  
Old 06-12-2017, 09:58 AM
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Hell, worse come to worse we get an unclear clause in the constitution better defined AND distract Trump.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:21 AM
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Then see what Lord Feldon cited from the Constitution.

What do the lawsuits say are violations by Trump of the Emoluments clause that haven't been approved by Congress in the conflict of interest exemption?

Regards,
Shodan
Except, if the whole thing is a violation of the emoluments clause, Congress can't exempt Trump from it., because statutory law can't negate a constitutional provision. Only a constitutional amendment can do that. Is it a violation of the emoluments clause? I don't know. But if it is, the president's exemption from conflict of interest law wouldn't change that.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:22 AM
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More recent conservative commentary has pointed out that if mere participation in private business was enough, then President Obama's book sales would have violated the domestic emoluments clause.

Certainly, a court could go in any direction with it, of course.
From an earlier thread:

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Originally Posted by Bricker View Post
Out of curiosity, when you looked at those words during the Obama administration, I am sure you did not think, "My gosh! The public library in Tauranga, New Zealand bought six copies of 'Dreams of My Father.' That could be an emoluments issue!"

But now looking back on it, does that concern you?

If you're looking at the text of the Clause, that is. Why or why not?
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:23 AM
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Sorry. What I meant to say is that, while congress could lift the clause in particular cases, I don't think they can do so in a blanket way. They'd have to approve each enolument individually.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:29 AM
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Except, if the whole thing is a violation of the emoluments clause, Congress can't exempt Trump from it., because statutory law can't negate a constitutional provision.
As was already cited, in this case, Congress definitely can, because the Constitution allows it.

"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."
  #25  
Old 06-12-2017, 10:37 AM
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I'd love to hear a discussion of this. On the one hand, it seems very clear to me that the president has violated the emoluments clause. Going against that are three factors:
1) I may be predisposed to believe bad things about Trump, and I want to work against that.
2) I'm not sure that there are any legal remedies, short of impeachment, for constitutional violations like this.
3) Even if there are, I'm not sure if the Maryland/DC Attorneys General have standing to file such a lawsuit.

What do the legal minds here think of this case?
I think the jurisdictions may have standing. I don't think what is happening qualifies as emoluments. I don't think there are any non-impeachment remedies other than the entities forfeiting the amount that is considered emoluments to the US government.

Presumably these other hotels have had competition before Trump was elected and the case that they are losing business as a result I would think does not create standing for damages via the emoluments clause. For a violation of the constitution, I do not think a competitor hotel would be the aggrieved party anymore than you or I would be. In this case however, I believe there were various incentives to some DC hotels by DC itself via tax credits, or other co-investments such that the government of DC may be shown to have experienced damages if they can demonstrate that Trump hotels have received more business at their expense as a result of emoluments received. Celebrity status alone I do not think would be sufficient.

Emoluments are gifts basically. If Trump hotels received payment for services rendered before he was elected, and payments for services rendered after he was elected at substantially the same rates, that's not a gift. If the rate was $300/night and then went to 10,000/night, that would be more revealing as a gift. Unless that type of information comes out, I would say the hotel stays did not constitute emoluments.

When a military person is found in violation of the emoluments clause via some kind of foreign consulting or some such, the remedy is a withholding of pay up to the amount of the emolument or the amount of the pay due to the person. (Page 12, Remedies). I seem to recall that the payments are being donated to the Treasury, so that would seem to moot the issue in the case of remedies.

My caveat is that none of this has been tested so this is my take on it.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:43 AM
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Sorry. What I meant to say is that, while congress could lift the clause in particular cases, I don't think they can do so in a blanket way. They'd have to approve each enolument individually.
Not so. Congress could allow certain gifts in a blanket way and set forth the criteria for such allowance. For example, the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act which established policies and procedures pertaining to the acceptance, use, and disposition of gifts or decorations from foreign governments.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:43 AM
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"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."
But the allegation is that Trump has already accepted emoluments without the consent of Congress.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:06 AM
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I didn't vote for Trump, but if some Republican voted to impeach Trump or to remove him from office without a statutory violation that could be proven, I would like to see that Republican's ass booted out of Congress faster than possible.

"Trump sux so bad we need to remove him from office even if he hasn't broken the law"? Fuck that noise. We are a nation of laws, not men, or at least we should be if we want to survive.
There's no law saying Trump can't nuke Toronto, but if he did (or tried but the people in the bombers and missile silos refused to carry out his orders), should we impeach and remove him?

Well, yeah. And I'm sure you'd agree with that.

And if you do, then the only question is, how big an abuse of power that broke no laws would it take for impeachment to be the right thing?

Like in the old joke, we've established the principle, now we're dickering over the price.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:12 AM
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Hell, worse come to worse we get an unclear clause in the constitution better defined AND distract Trump.
And maybe get a peek at some certain tax returns.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:28 AM
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Sorry. What I meant to say is that, while congress could lift the clause in particular cases, I don't think they can do so in a blanket way. They'd have to approve each enolument individually.
Then wouldn't the exemption from conflicts of interest be un-Constitutional? It was a blanket exemption.

Like Bricker says above, would Congress have to have given approval every time Obama sold a book, or got a dividend from some investment?

ISTM that the Constitution doesn't define how Congress has to give approval, any more than it says how or when it has to approve a SCOTUS nominee. Why couldn't Congress just pass laws saying "put it all in a blind trust and it will be OK"? When the DC and Maryland AGs have evidence that Trump is taking cash under the table (or selling pardons for campaign contributions, or firing people from the White House travel office to channel business to your friends) we can worry about it then.

I did some Googling but I can't tell - did Obama get permission from Congress before he accepted the Nobel Prize? That's worth a considerable sum, although I believe Obama donated it to charity.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:34 AM
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I did some Googling but I can't tell - did Obama get permission from Congress before he accepted the Nobel Prize? That's worth a considerable sum, although I believe Obama donated it to charity.
According to the DOJ as cited in this article, the Nobel Prize did not violate the emoluments clause because the prize is awarded by the Nobel Committee which is not a king, prince or foreign state.

Last edited by scr4; 06-12-2017 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:34 AM
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I did some Googling but I can't tell - did Obama get permission from Congress before he accepted the Nobel Prize? That's worth a considerable sum, although I believe Obama donated it to charity.
It was considered by the Office of Legal Counsel for sure. In summary:
Quote:
As we previously explained in our oral advice and now explain in greater detail, because the Nobel Committee that awards the Peace Prize is not a “King, Prince, or foreign State,” the Emoluments Clause does not apply.

... there is substantial and consistent historical practice of the political branches that is directly relevant. The President would be far from the first government official holding an “Office of Profit or Trust” to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Rather, since 1906, there have been at least six federal officers who have accepted the Prize while serving in their elected or appointed offices. The Peace Prize has been received by two other sitting Presidents—Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson—by a sitting Vice President, Secretary of State, and Senator, and by a retired General of the Army,2 with the most recent of these acceptances having occurred in 1973. Throughout this history, we have found no indication that either the Executive or the Legislative Branch thought congressional approval was necessary.
Much more at the link.

eta: ninja'd while copying/pasting!

Last edited by Bone; 06-12-2017 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:37 AM
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...

Emoluments are gifts basically. If Trump hotels received payment for services rendered before he was elected, and payments for services rendered after he was elected at substantially the same rates, that's not a gift. If the rate was $300/night and then went to 10,000/night, that would be more revealing as a gift. Unless that type of information comes out, I would say the hotel stays did not constitute emoluments.
.....
bolding is mine.

I would disagree. Courts generally try to give distinct meaning to each word. Since the clause specifies "...present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever..." I would assume that present has a different meaning than emolument which has a different meaning than office.... etc...

IMHO, the term "present" would mean gift - something given without expectation of receiving anything in return. The term "emolument" would seem to have the distinct meaning of salary, wage, honorarium, or compensation for work performed. If "emolument" included the idea of a gift received without expectation of receiving anything in return then the term "present" would be a surplusage.

The terms office and title do not seem to be at issue at the present.

So far I have not heard any allegation that Trump has personally received outright gifts that were not permitted by Congress. Perhaps there have been some ceremonial gifts exchanged in the course of diplomacy, but so far I have not seen an allegation that any such gift was not permitted or handed over to a US government agency in accordance with tradition for how such matters have been handled.

There does not seen to be an allegation of Trump receiving a salary, wage, or honorarium. So the real question is down to emoluments, and whether such term includes ordinary profits from business, and whether such are the sort of compensation intended to be prohibited by this clause.

If emoluments are to be understood as including any profits from business transaction then it seems likely that the last several presidents would have been in violation in some small way. In addition to the book sale hypothetical Bricker raised above, Obama did own stock in a variety of companies according to his financial disclosures. If those companies had any sales to a foreign government then Obama as a part-owner shareholder directly benefited in some small way. But is that important? Hardly. It was roundly ignored.

Which gives rise the the reasonable question, might a connection be so tenuous and distant, or a profit be so minor, that the emoluments clause should not be triggered?
  #34  
Old 06-12-2017, 11:44 AM
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There's no law saying Trump can't nuke Toronto, but if he did (or tried but the people in the bombers and missile silos refused to carry out his orders), should we impeach and remove him?

Well, yeah. And I'm sure you'd agree with that.

And if you do, then the only question is, how big an abuse of power that broke no laws would it take for impeachment to be the right thing?

Like in the old joke, we've established the principle, now we're dickering over the price.
Twenty bucks, same as in town.

You make a fair point. There could certainly be an abuse that didn't break any laws but deserved impeachment anyway. I don't know if I could define it, except it would have to be enough to convince non-partisans as well as reasonable partisans, if such exist.

The case the last time we impeached a President wasn't enough, apparently, but that probably doesn't make it any clearer.


Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:53 AM
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According to the DOJ as cited in this article, the Nobel Prize did not violate the emoluments clause because the prize is awarded by the Nobel Committee which is not a king, prince or foreign state.
Thanks to you (and Bone) for the cite. I didn't see where Trump was getting anything from a foreign state in the lawsuits.

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:59 AM
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Thanks to you (and Bone) for the cite. I didn't see where Trump was getting anything from a foreign state in the lawsuits.

Regards,
Shodan
The broad allegation is that foreign governments might be booking hotel rooms and/or events space in one or more hotels owned, at least in part, by Trump.

So if I, as an employee of a foreign government, travel to a conference in Washington and stay in a Trump owned hotel that might be an emoluments clause violation for Trump if my hotel stay is paid for by my employer.

Last edited by Iggy; 06-12-2017 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:00 PM
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Thanks to you (and Bone) for the cite. I didn't see where Trump was getting anything from a foreign state in the lawsuits.
From the WaPo article cited in the OP:

Quote:
After hiring staff and holding events to cater to foreign diplomats, the Embassy of Kuwait held an event at the [Trump hotel near the White House], switching its initial booking from the Four Seasons. Saudi Arabia, the destination of Trump’s first trip abroad, also booked rooms at the hotel through an intermediary on more than one occasion since Trump’s inauguration. Turkey held a state-sponsored event there last month. And in April, the ambassador of Georgia stayed at the hotel and tweeted his compliments. Trump himself has appeared at the hotel and greeted guests repeatedly since becoming president.

Last edited by scr4; 06-12-2017 at 12:01 PM.
  #38  
Old 06-12-2017, 12:00 PM
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Thanks to you (and Bone) for the cite. I didn't see where Trump was getting anything from a foreign state in the lawsuits.
I believe the state bank of China is a tenant in one of the buildings owned by one of Trump's enterprises. That and foreign dignitaries choosing to pay for stays at Trump owned hotels. That would be getting something from a foreign state.

ETA: Dammit! ninja'd again!

Last edited by Bone; 06-12-2017 at 12:00 PM.
  #39  
Old 06-12-2017, 12:04 PM
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Just to be difficult, I will mention that the Nobel Peace Prize committee is appointed by the Norwegian government.

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Old 06-12-2017, 12:15 PM
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Just to be difficult, I will mention that the Nobel Peace Prize committee is appointed by the Norwegian government.
True. I suspect this decision would have received more scrutiny if there was any evidence of Norway receiving favorable treatment from President Obama. (Though the emoluments clause applies even if there wasn't any quid pro quo.)
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:53 PM
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Sorry. What I meant to say is that, while congress could lift the clause in particular cases, I don't think they can do so in a blanket way. They'd have to approve each enolument individually.
What do you base this conclusion on?
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Old 06-12-2017, 02:49 PM
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If he owns these hotels --- and I would imagine his connections to be rather tenuous, since he was probably never a particularly hands-on grande hotelier, checking the kitchens, turning up the bedclothes, flicking the switches on and off, and generally being a regular little fusspot --- wouldn't it turn on whether he in any way solicited these folk to stay at his properties ?


If they did so to ingratiate themselves with the new president, as you or I might slip a couple of million into the Clinton Foundation as a goodwill gesture, it's difficult to see how he could discourage that, even for his delicate sense of propriety --- and it might be illegal for him not to maximize profits for his shareholders by refusing trade.
  #43  
Old 06-12-2017, 03:11 PM
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If he owns these hotels --- and I would imagine his connections to be rather tenuous, since he was probably never a particularly hands-on grande hotelier, checking the kitchens, turning up the bedclothes, flicking the switches on and off, and generally being a regular little fusspot --- wouldn't it turn on whether he in any way solicited these folk to stay at his properties ?


If they did so to ingratiate themselves with the new president, as you or I might slip a couple of million into the Clinton Foundation as a goodwill gesture, it's difficult to see how he could discourage that, even for his delicate sense of propriety --- and it might be illegal for him not to maximize profits for his shareholders by refusing trade.
It's almost like it's a bad idea for him to maintain ownership of these properties while simultaneously leading the United States. It's almost like the ethics advice he received at the start of his campaign would have been worth following.
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Old 06-12-2017, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Evan Drake View Post
If he owns these hotels --- and I would imagine his connections to be rather tenuous, since he was probably never a particularly hands-on grande hotelier, checking the kitchens, turning up the bedclothes, flicking the switches on and off, and generally being a regular little fusspot --- wouldn't it turn on whether he in any way solicited these folk to stay at his properties ?
He does have ownership interest in them. Whether he takes an active management role is not relevant to the question of emoluments. His potential solicitation for others to stay at the hotels is also not relevant. The emoluments clause captures a very wide variety of activities.


Quote:
If they did so to ingratiate themselves with the new president, as you or I might slip a couple of million into the Clinton Foundation as a goodwill gesture, it's difficult to see how he could discourage that, even for his delicate sense of propriety --- and it might be illegal for him not to maximize profits for his shareholders by refusing trade.
The Clinton Foundation is a non sequitur. It is not illegal to not maximize profits.

Basically, everything you've written here is not accurate.

Last edited by Bone; 06-12-2017 at 03:17 PM.
  #45  
Old 06-12-2017, 03:39 PM
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If emoluments are to be understood as including any profits from business transaction then it seems likely that the last several presidents would have been in violation in some small way. In addition to the book sale hypothetical Bricker raised above, Obama did own stock in a variety of companies according to his financial disclosures. If those companies had any sales to a foreign government then Obama as a part-owner shareholder directly benefited in some small way. But is that important? Hardly. It was roundly ignored.
Well the book hypothetical requires us to accept a Australian local library purchase as a "foreign government" purchase.

And I was under the impression that Obama, while president, mostly bought T-bonds and put some money in mutual funds. Definitely a few steps away from the closeness of Trump's hotel and property business.
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Old 06-12-2017, 03:50 PM
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Well the book hypothetical requires us to accept a Australian local library purchase as a "foreign government" purchase.
Why isn't it?

And talk about missing the point: if the "local library" aspect is truly the issue, imagine that the National Library of Australia bought the books.

Now what?

Quote:
And I was under the impression that Obama, while president, mostly bought T-bonds and put some money in mutual funds. Definitely a few steps away from the closeness of Trump's hotel and property business.
Which the Clause regulates how, exactly? How many steps and how much closeness exactly does it permit?
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Old 06-12-2017, 04:22 PM
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Why isn't it?

And talk about missing the point: if the "local library" aspect is truly the issue, imagine that the National Library of Australia bought the books.

Now what?
I guess I would have to rely on the Supremes to not be morons and recognize that a library would buy books every year and if there was nothing remarkable about buying a couple of Obama books then its unlikely to be a bribe of some sort. I would similarly expect if the number of foreign kings staying at Trump hotels wasn't unusually higher after his election for them to dismiss this case.

Quote:
Which the Clause regulates how, exactly? How many steps and how much closeness exactly does it permit?
That's a concept for the court to decide but not yours to dismiss.
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Old 06-12-2017, 04:39 PM
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I guess I would have to rely on the Supremes to not be morons and recognize that a library would buy books every year and if there was nothing remarkable about buying a couple of Obama books then its unlikely to be a bribe of some sort. I would similarly expect if the number of foreign kings staying at Trump hotels wasn't unusually higher after his election for them to dismiss this case.
You expect the Supreme Court to hear witnesses, then?

Hey, if there's an objection which justice gets to rule on it?

Last edited by Bricker; 06-12-2017 at 04:39 PM.
  #49  
Old 06-12-2017, 04:47 PM
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You expect the Supreme Court to hear witnesses, then?

Hey, if there's an objection which justice gets to rule on it?
I don't see where I mentioned witnesses before the Supreme Court. I would have expected all these issues to be raised and argued before it gets there and most of the factual information to be readily available to the Supremes. Is that some crazy assumption?
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Old 06-12-2017, 05:01 PM
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On reflection though, I guess this case would likely go straight to the SC since it's being raised by state AGs. But I still don't see the need for witnesses. It is simple accounting book evidence, istm.
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