Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Emolument Clause and Trump’s entanglements - collection of news stories

Our Founding Fathers were very concerned about foreign interests undermining the fidelity of United States government officials with a variety of financial incentives.  That is why they created the “Emolument Clause.”  Here is a collection of quotes and links to recent articles looking at various aspects of the Emolument Clause and how it relates to our soon to be president, the Russian Obligate, Donald Trump with his untold international business entanglements (Guess now we know another reason Trump continues hiding his tax returns.).  I do this in order to provide a one stop overview and reference resource regarding USA's wise Emolument Clause.  Feel free to copy and share.  

Democracy use it or lose it!  
bring this up because you know those two faced Republicans are going to try and green-light Trump's shenanigans since they only care about their agenda and payouts are part of their game anyways, so it ain't no big thing.  To them!  Heck, they don't even care about Russians undermining our election, it's all business to them.

Besides, who's going to do anything to stop them? Democratic politicians?  Forget about it.  What can they accomplish without many, many thousands of your letters and phone calls in their pockets.  Democracy is a team effort!  Everyone has their roll to fulfill.  Can you help?  At the end of this collection I include a list of Democratic Senators' addresses and office phone numbers.


Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S Constitution:  
“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.”
News Article Titles:

Norman L. Eisen, Richard Painter, and Laurence H. Tribe
December 16, 2016

Foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our nation and the Framers of our Constitution. The United States was a new government, and one that was vulnerable to manipulation by the great and wealthy world powers (which then, as now, included Russia). One common tactic that foreign sovereigns, and their agents, used to influence our officials was to give them gifts, money, and other things of value. In response to this practice, and the self-evident threat it represents, the Framers included in the Constitution the Emoluments Clause of Article 1, Section 9.  It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Only explicit congressional consent validates such exchanges.

While much has changed since 1789, certain premises of politics and human nature have held steady. One of those truths is that private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders. As careful students of history, the Framers were painfully aware that entanglements between American officials and foreign powers could pose a creeping, insidious risk to the Republic. The Emoluments Clause was forged of their hard-won wisdom. It is no relic of a bygone era, but rather an expression of insight into the nature of the human condition and the prerequisites of self-governance.

Now in 2016, when there is overwhelming evidence that a foreign power has indeed meddled in our political system, adherence to the strict prohibition on foreign government presents and emoluments “of any kind whatever” is even more important for our national security and independence.

Never in American history has a president-elect presented more conflict of interest questions and foreign entanglements than Donald Trump. Given the vast and global scope of Trump’s business interests, many of which remain shrouded in secrecy, we cannot predict the full gamut of legal and constitutional challenges that lie ahead. 

But one violation, of constitutional magnitude, will run from the instant that Mr. Trump swears he will “execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”[1] While holding office, Mr. Trump will receive—by virtue of his continued interest in the Trump Organization and his stake in hundreds of other entities—a steady stream of monetary and other benefits from faithfully foreign powers and their agents.

Applied to Mr. Trump’s diverse dealings, the text and purpose of the Emoluments Clause speak as one: this cannot be allowed. …

The Electoral College, the Constitution, and Trump's Conflicts of Interest
John F. Kowal | December 17, 2016

… The word “emolument” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “profit or gain from station, office, or employment; reward, remuneration, salary.” As the Brookings paper notes, the framers of our Constitution used the term as “a catch-all for many species of improper remuneration.” …

As the Brookings’ authors note: “The Emoluments Clause was forged of their hard-won wisdom. It is no relic of a bygone era, but rather an expression of insight into the nature of the human condition and the preconditions of self-governance.”

The concerns over foreign meddling, viewed through the prism of 1789, don’t seem so far fetched in 2016, …

On Trump Conflicts, don't forget about the other Emoluments Clause
Brianne J. Gorod, December 19, 2016

…but the point is the American people should never have to wonder whose interests the President of the United States is serving. 

And, unfortunately, when it comes to the incoming Administration, it’s apparent that there may be no shortage of ways in which the new President may be violating the Domestic Emoluments Clause, even as the President-elect’s failure to disclose all of his financial holdings and interests makes it impossible to know the true extent of the problem.

Perhaps most significantly, with hotels and property developments all over the United States, it’s possible that Trump has been—and will continue to be—the beneficiary of tax breaks from any number of states. As the NY Times has reported, since 1980, Trump “has reaped at least $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” And that’s just in New York. 

It’s not difficult to imagine that Trump could use the power of the presidency to “encourage” states and cities to offer similar tax breaks to his properties, or that states and cities could of their own will do so to try to curry favor with the Administration. Likewise, Trump plans to maintain a financial stake in the reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice. It’s quite possible that the show might be the recipient of tax incentives and breaks, and that Trump would be one of the people reaping the benefits.

The Framers might not have been able to envision the precise nature of the conflicts of interest presented by the Trump presidency (they surely couldn’t have imagined Celebrity Apprentice), but we do know they envisioned these types of problems. That’s why they included the prohibitions they did in the Constitution to protect against corruption and self-dealing. 

And as the conversation continues about Trump’s conflicts of interest and the constitutional problems they pose, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there’s not just one constitutional provision at stake, but two. We shouldn’t forget the other Emoluments Clause.

Emoluments Clause Unlikely to Curb Trump’s Overseas Entanglements
BY CoolayLawSchoolBlog | DECEMBER 8, 2016

… Third, and finally, note how the Emoluments Clause says that a president should not accept anything of value from a foreign country “without the consent of the Congress.” A court will likely read that phrase as signaling a textual commitment of this question to Congress, not courts. If Congress wants to allow the president to corrupt U.S. affairs with his own personal interests in enrichment, then so be it. And if the president goes too far, it’s up to Congress — not courts — to address the problem. Conveniently, Congress, unlike courts, has a ready-made remedy at its disposal: impeachment and removal from office.

Federal courts will not intervene in Trump’s foreign entanglements under the guise of enforcing the Emoluments Clause; they won’t want to get involved, and the political question doctrine will provide them with the means to punt on this issue even in the unlikely event that anyone will ever have standing to raise it.

New stash of legal opinions detail hurdles for Trump on emoluments ban

… A set of legal opinions POLITICO obtained from the Justice Department in 2012 and is publishing in full below lays out the official legal interpretations the federal government has issued over the years for the obscure constitutional provision now complicating Trump's transition to the Oval Office: the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

None of the Office of Legal Counsel opinions dated from the 1940s to the 2000s directly address how to unravel the foreign entanglements of a complex and large business empire like Trump’s. …

… But the opinions do provide the Justice Department's view that the foreign emoluments ban is intended to be "sweeping" in its scope and has traditionally been "strictly construed," standards which could complicate Trump's situation, Wexler said.

The memos also opine on some threshold questions like whether the ban on foreign-government-supported gifts applies to the president. …

Here are the set of legal memos released to POLITICO:
Payment of NASA scientist by Australian university, May 23, 1986 (issued by future Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito)
Selected other emoluments opinions not part of the above release, but available online:

Conflicts on top of conflicts: Another “emoluments clause” that should bar Donald Trump from office
Heather D. Parton, November 21, 2016

… The obvious concern is that Trump will be unduly influenced by foreign interests currying favor by supporting his business (or vice versa). But it turns out that there is a domestic emoluments clause as well, which has not been discussed. And Trump faces potential conflicts on that front as he does on the other.

It remains a mystery as to why, with some notable exceptions, the campaign press largely ignored the the issue of what Trump planned to do about his privately held business if he were elected. 

His unprecedented refusal to release any tax returns was an obvious sign that he was hiding something. And the required forms that he filed with the Federal Election Commission don’t shed much light on his web of business interests — other than to show that the appearance of conflict is overwhelming. But members of the press largely let that drop, aside for a few questions that Trump waved away with a fatuous declaration that he planned to turn the business over to his kids in a “blind trust” — which meant it would not be a blind trust. He promised that he wouldn’t “care about” the business.

Since the election Trump has said that his ethics adviser, the new White House counsel (and notorious former Republican federal elections commissioner), told him that “the president cannot have conflicts of interest” although he told The New York Times he wanted to “do something” to alleviate questions. He scheduled a press conference for Dec.15 to announce his plans and then canceled it. The last we’ve heard is that he’s not going to divest anything and plans to have his sons run the business. …

The Emoluments Clause — is Donald Trump violating its letter or spirit?
By Jonathan H. Adler | November 21, 2016

Six months ago, I doubt too many people knew much about the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution (also known as the “Foreign Emoluments Clause”). Now, however, thanks to controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation and President-elect Donald Trump’s business dealings, the clause is the subject of substantial discussion.
Like most readers of this blog, I suspect, I am anything but an expert on this clause. Fortunately, one of my colleagues — Erik Jensen — is such an expert. So I asked him to comment, and the following is what he had to offer:
The Foreign Emoluments Clause in Article I, section 9, provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of [sic] any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” …

Whether or not one concludes that Trump’s business dealings violate the letter or the spirit of the Emoluments Clause, the underlying controversy is almost certainly non-justiciable. It is difficult to conceive of a scenario in which someone would have standing to challenge Trump’s arrangements, and even harder to think what sort of remedy could be ordered by a court. 

In other words, if there are concerns about how President Trump handles his various investments, the only remedies will be political.

Donald Trump’s Business Dealings Test a Constitutional Limit
By Adam Liptak | Nov. 21, 2016

WASHINGTON — Not long after he took office, President Obama sought advice from the Justice Department about a potential conflict of interest involving a foreign government. He wanted to know whether he could accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The answer turned on the Emoluments Clause, an obscure provision of the Constitution … It took David J. Barron, a Justice Department official who is now a federal appeals court judge in Boston, 13 single-spaced pages to answer Mr. Obama’s question. …

… But he said that the answer would be different if a foreign government sought to make a payment to a sitting president. In a footnote, Mr. Barron added, “Corporations owned or controlled by a foreign government are presumptively foreign states under the Emoluments Clause.” 

Mr. Trump’s companies do business with entities controlled by foreign governments and people with ties to them. The ventures include multimillion-dollar real estate arrangements — with Mr. Trump’s companies either as a full owner or a “branding” partner — in Ireland and Uruguay. The Bank of China is a tenant in Trump Tower and a lender for another building in Midtown Manhattan where Mr. Trump has a significant partnership interest.

Experts in legal ethics say those kinds of arrangements could easily run afoul of the Emoluments Clause if they continue after Mr. Trump takes office. “The founders very clearly intended that officers of the United States, including the president, not accept presents from foreign sovereigns,” said Norman Eisen, who was the chief White House ethics lawyer for Mr. Obama from 2009 to 2011. …

Donald Trump and the Emoluments Clause, explained
Some experts believe his business empire will violate the Constitution from day one.
by Jeff Stein, Nov 23, 2016

Barring a major and unexpected change of course, Donald Trump will run the risk of violating the US Constitution on January 20, 2017 — the very first day he is sworn into the US presidency.

The breach stems from the massive conflicts of interest between his presidency and his business empire. Trump has a huge stake in a real estate holding underwritten with a loan from the Chinese government. He has tens of millions of dollars riding on building projects in Saudi Arabia. Foreign diplomats have already admitted to spending money at his hotels to curry favor with the president. …

… There’s almost no way to imagine that this won’t happen under the current arrangement. Trump’s wide-ranging business will involve thousands of interactions across multiple countries, and in countries whose foreign governments’ will have clear incentives to curry favor with the president. We’d have to believe that not a single one of them will ever do something that disproportionately helps Trump’s private business — an idea which doesn’t pass the laugh test.

“It’s clearly prohibited,” says Steven Schooner, a George Washington University law professor.

“The president cannot get a gift from a foreign government,” says Jordan Libowitz, of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “And it looks like he’s going to do exactly that.” …

… Instead, Trump’s campaign has said that he’s going to turn his company over to a “blind trust” managed by his kids.

The problem is that this setup isn’t even in the same universe as a blind trust. The Trump children will certainly be in touch with him, if not serving informally or even formally in his administration. 

But even if we grant him that having his kids run the enterprise is a meaningful act of separation, there’ll be nothing “blind” about it — Trump’s name is emblazoned all over his buildings and hotels, and so it will be visible to everyone whether a foreign government can help his private business.

“He’ll be able to know exactly which countries are helping his company,” says John Wonderlich, interim director of the Sunlight Foundation.


Trump's International Business Dealings Could Violate The Constitution
Ailsa Chang | November 22, 2016

… So what is a violation of the Emoluments Clause?

Problem is, what constitutes a violation of the Emoluments Clause is a tangled conversation that very quickly involves lots of hypotheticals — because there is virtually no case law on the subject.

Not only have prior presidents been careful to steer clear of any perceived violations of the clause, there's never been a president like Trump, whose companies have such vast global reach. And Trump hasn't fully disclosed the full extent of his global business dealings.

So all legal experts can do now is pose possible scenarios. …

What is an emolument and why do we care?
November 22, 2016 by NCC Staff

President-elect Donald J. Trump might have some unique decisions to make about how his business assets are managed as he serves in the White House, thanks to an obscure constitutional clause.

Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution contains what is known as the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which reads, “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.”

An emolument is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.” On Tuesday, the New York Times’ Adam Liptak wrote about a possible debate about how the clause needs to be evaluated as it applies to Trump’s business holdings. …

The Constitution 
Recent Stories on Constitution Daily

One clause in the US Constitution could put Trump's foreign business connections in jeopardy
By James Dennin | Nov. 22, 2016,

… One of dozens of proscriptions in the Constitution aimed at fighting corruption, the emoluments clause is one of the only ones that actually applies to the president. Critics of President-elect Donald Trump's potential financial conflicts of interest are pointing to it amid reports about his extensive business dealings with foreign entities, including the state-owned Bank of China.

Some critics point to recent troubling reports — that Trump allegedly asked British politician Nigel Farage to push against wind farm development near a Trump golf course, and that the president-elect reportedly lobbied Argentinian president Mauricio Macri to help expedite a stalled Buenos Ares development — as signs that Trump is already using his clout improperly.

In a meeting Tuesday with the New York Times, Trump seemed to confirm the reports about his talk with Farage.

Donald Trump's Conflicts of Interest: A Crib Sheet
A semi-comprehensive list of the business concerns that may influence the president-elect as he prepares for the nation’s highest office
Jeremy Venook | DEC 27, 2016

Since his election, an ever-increasing level of attention has been paid to the unprecedented conflicts of interest that President-elect Donald J. Trump seems likely to bring with him when he assumes office. His responses to the concerns have been varied and, at times, contradictory. His first statement on the subject, which came via Twitter, suggested that he would make little effort to avoid entangling his business and his office, and would instead attack those who point that out:

realDonaldTrump: “Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!”

The president-elect’s public stance since the election has been inconsistent at best and contradictory at worst. …

… However, neither provided any evidence of the sale, and considering the president-elect’s history of questionable or downright false statements regarding his finances—see, for example, David Fahrenthold’s months-long, exhaustive debunking of Trump’s claims regarding his charitable giving and namesake foundation—the claim remains suspect. …

… At any rate, legality does not imply propriety. Unless Trump acts to put appropriate distance between himself and his business ventures, these questions are likely to continue throughout his time in the Oval Office. 

Below is an attempt to catalogue the more clear-cut examples of conflicts of interest that have emerged so far; the most recent entries appear at the top.

That Virginia Vineyard
That Las Vegas Labor Dispute
That Kuwaiti Event
Those Certificates of Divestiture
That Carrier Deal
That Blind-Trust Issue
Those Fannie and Freddie Investments
That Phone Call With Taiwan
That Deutsche Bank Debt
That Secret Service Detail
That Property in Georgia (the Country)
That Phone Call With Erdogan
That Hotel in Washington, D.C.
That Argentinian Office Building
Those Companies in Saudi Arabia
That British Wind Farm
Those Indian Business Partners
That Envoy From the Philippines


Democratic Senators of the 114th Congress

Boxer, Barbara - (D - CA)
Class III
112 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3553

Class I
331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3841

Class III
261 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5852

Class III
706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2823

Class I
136 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4041

Class I
513 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2441

Class II
127A Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5042

Nelson, Bill - (D - FL)
Class I
716 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5274

Class I
330 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6361

Schatz, Brian - (D - HI)
Class III
722 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3934

Class II
711 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2152

Donnelly, Joe - (D - IN)
Class I
720 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4814

Class II
255 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2742

Class I
317 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4543

Class I
509 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4524

Class III
503 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4654

Class I
133 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5344

Class II
724 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6221

Class I
731 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4822

Franken, Al - (D - MN)
Class II
309 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5641

Klobuchar, Amy - (D - MN)
Class I
302 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3244

Class I
730 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6154

Tester, Jon - (D - MT)
Class I
311 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2644

Class I
110 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2043

Class II
506 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2841

Class II
359 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3224

Class I
528 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4744

Class I
303 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5521

Udall, Tom - (D - NM)
Class II
531 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6621

Reid, Harry - (D - NV)
Class III
522 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3542

Class I
478 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4451

Class III
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6542

Brown, Sherrod - (D - OH)
Class I
713 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2315

Merkley, Jeff - (D - OR)
Class II
313 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3753

Wyden, Ron - (D - OR)
Class III
221 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5244

Class I
393 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-6324

Reed, Jack - (D - RI)
Class II
728 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4642

Class I
530 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2921

Class I
104 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5251

Kaine, Tim - (D - VA)
Class I
231 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4024

Class II
475 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2023

Class III
437 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

Class I
332 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5141

Class I
511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3441

Murray, Patty - (D - WA)
Class III
154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2621

Baldwin, Tammy - (D - WI)
Class I
717 Hart Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5653

Class I
306 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-3954

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