Editor, Breitbart Unmasked
A disturbing question keeps popping up, over and over and in different contexts. There are whole sections of the Constitution that lay down the line on what a president can and cannot do. President-elect Donald Trump seems to care little for those restraints. Chief among those restrictions that Trump seems to care a little for is a little thing referred to as “the emolument clause.”
That is not a frequently-used word in our 21st century lexicon. It tends to make one think of skin lotion ads where the “rich, creamy emoluments will keep your skin smooth and young looking.”
In fact, an “emolument” is “compensation received by virtue of holding an office.” This is distinct from the salary paid to a public servant. An “emolument” is usually considered to be a thing of value offered to and accepted by a public servant above and beyond the salary due to him and her for the mere performance of the duties of that office. It doesn’t even have to be a blatant bribe. If you make $XXX in a government job and someone offers to put a water-resistant coat on your driveway, you must decline because you would be in violation of Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the US 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.
The Emoluments Clause.
The moment Donald Trump takes the oath of office, he will be in violation. Bigly.
Most presidents avoid violating the emoluments clause by setting up a blind trust, which prevents them from knowing when “something of value” comes their way. But Mr. Trump has said he will give his children the responsibility of running the Trump Organization. This puts a constitutional burden not only on him, but on Congress, to create a procedure to review and consent to foreign-state related transactions that benefit him.
See, Trump can ask Congress to pass a bill authorizing him to keep all that stuff, to allow his kids to run the foundation. If Congress approves, Okey Dokey!
The sheer volume of Trump’s enterprises, and his role as a promoter in them, makes this a near-impossible task, as does the difficulty of defining which of the transactions falls within the prohibition, and which do not. But the Constitution is clear that Congress has an obligation to stand as a check on inappropriate foreign influence. Congressional leaders should be among the loudest voices demanding he liquidate his assets and create a true blind trust, because of the burden that the alternative poses.
The question arises. Given the Republican majorities in the House and Senate and given the fact that these legislators have already show their reluctance to anger the Trump base, does anyone think Congress would tell him “No”?
And if they did and Trump decided to ignore the Congress, ignore the Constitution, ignore the potential articles of impeachment that could follow, what then?
If Trump surrounds himself with military loyalists, what’s to stop him from doing any damn thing he wants?
Who’s gonna stop him? How do they propose standing against the full force of the US Military, which could likely maintain enough warriors willing to obey the unlawful orders of their superiors to fight for their commander in chief rather than stand up for a Constitution many feel gives too much of a break to the lawbreakers? What if Trump were to nationalize the states’ National Guards and order the 50 governors to turn command and control over to the Department of Defense with a warning that those who refuse will face having their states invaded by Trump’s loyal troops?
Who’s gonna stop him? State, county and local police? Can you imagine the sheer volume of right wing sheriffs and police chiefs in this country that would jump at the chance to have their constitutional restraints lifted from them? Stop and frisk would be the least of our problems.
Paranoid? God, I hope so.
But we have just shy of two months to consider this potential horror show and what (if anything) we as citizens can do to protect our rights. There needs to be a plan in place. Otherwise…
Who’s Gonna Stop Him?