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> Maryland and DC Push Emoluments Clause via Lawsuit, Business interests of the POTUS in question
AuthorMusician
post Jun 12 2017, 03:39 PM
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The state of Maryland and Washington DC are bringing a lawsuit against President Trump through their attorneys general:

Story

Here's a definition of emolument:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emolument

There's a link to a podcast on the term as well in the above link. Take note that the meaning has changed throughout history and has at its root the fee charged for grinding grain. Today the meaning has to do with compensation given in exchange for work, more commonly called salary and benefits/perks.

The POTUS isn't supposed to take emoluments from foreign entities, according to the Constitution of the USA:

https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-...use-8/clause/34

It isn't so cut-and-dried though, since President Washington seems to have broken the rule right off the bat. There have also been attempts to clarify the rule, which is brought out in the above link, and so the questions for debate:

In our now global economy, why should/should not the Emoluments Clause be interpreted leniently for allowing the POTUS to retain foreign business interests, even in/with countries not considered to be allies and seen more as adversaries or straight-up enemies?

If the point of the Emoluments Clause is to avoid corruption, how effective is it? If not very effective, what would work better?
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Blackstone
post Jun 17 2017, 03:55 PM
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In our now global economy, why should/should not the Emoluments Clause be interpreted leniently for allowing the POTUS to retain foreign business interests, even in/with countries not considered to be allies and seen more as adversaries or straight-up enemies?

The Emoluments Clause, like every other clause in the Constitution, "should" be interpreted according to how it was generally understood at the time it was written (that being the closest to what it actually means, remembering always that words are mere carriers of meaning, not sources of meaning). If we decide that anything in the Constitution is inadequate for our present purposes, there's always Article V.

As for what it actually does (and by implication, did) mean, that may be a little more difficult, but it would appear to me anyway that anyone alleging a violation has the burden of showing that the foreign power intended to provide our officer with a gift, and that the recipient was fully aware of that intent. A foreign power's decision to hold an event at one of his hotels when it had never done so in the past may be an attempt to curry favor with him (and either way it's no question that it doesn't look good when they do that), or it could merely be that the publicity surrounding he fact that its owner became a much more prominent figure made them more aware of the hotel's existence than they were before and decided to check it out and liked what they saw. It may be highly inappropriate, but that in itself doesn't necessarily rise to the level of unconstitutionality.

Of course, the other problem is that the Constitution provides no enforcement mechanism for this, and it's far from clear that the plaintiffs in this suit have any standing to bring it at all.

If the point of the Emoluments Clause is to avoid corruption, how effective is it? If not very effective, what would work better?

I probably wouldn't give it very high marks for effectiveness, partly because of what I said above about the lack of enforceability, and partly because even back in 1789 the rule was pretty easy to get around for those who were of the mindset (for example, by giving gifts to the officer's family).

What would work better? Simple: an informed and vigilant electorate.
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AuthorMusician
post Jun 21 2017, 05:47 AM
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QUOTE(Blackstone @ Jun 17 2017, 11:55 AM) *
What would work better? Simple: an informed and vigilant electorate.

You make good points, but making the electorate informed and vigilant isn't so simple. For one, information isn't at all reliable, given the amount of misinformation that the Internet has enabled. This runs the gamut from stock/bond/futures info to how stuff works. For another, being vigilant means different things, depending on the individual. One might be vigilant about firearm control laws, while another might have SS and Medicare as focal points. Still another might want less attention while pulling off con jobs.

It comes down to how we figure out what is and isn't reliable information. Simply attempting to interpret the Constitution as it was understood hundreds of years ago doesn't mean that the conclusions will be at all accurate, since nobody's alive from that time, for example. Whatever comes out of the exercise will have been colored by personal desires, and that can lead to very bad policy. Or really good stuff too, depending on the ever-present POV and who is doing the assessment.

Anywho, I'm all for being well-informed and vigilant. Getting from here to there is the challenge, and it looks like too big a one for too many members of the electorate. Emotions tend to rule the day, aka gut feelings, and so we're stuck with what we've got. Now I'm wondering how crooked does a POTUS need to be before getting booted out of office? It seems like the system created back there in the 18th century left a very big hole in which a crooked current POTUS can hide.

On the upside is the balance of power and a POTUS who must enjoy attention of any sort, even that from the courts and Congress as power tries to balance out. Then there's the FBI taking a stand against its theoretical boss, but in actuality for its real boss -- the electorate/country.

I'm not solid yet on whether emoluments from foreign sources should be entirely banned by law or not, but I'm leaning toward a full ban. What this means to business types running for office is that I really could not care less what your international entanglements were before taking office, but once in, you'd better clear them up. Same for your family, and if that's too much to demand, then it proves your heart and head aren't in the right places to serve the country as an elected official. Go do something else. Try to keep it legal. There are still lots of ways to earn an honest buck.

But then what about not having any talent in government? Er, then there's Trump. Huh, no talent regardless. Often dangerously stupid. Self-destructive too, making me worry he's going to drag us all down with him.

Yeah, ban all foreign emoluments for the elected official, his/her family, and her/his little dog too.Then after the required liquidation of assets, allow only certain investments while the official serves. Go nuts after you stop serving.

Keyword: service, as in the public kind.

Heh, just got a vision of the Trump library -- just a TV tuned into Fox News. No books, maybe tapes? Everything's encrusted in pigeon poop, since the electorate got informed, vigilant, and refused to pay for the walls. No walls = no roof = all for the birds.
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Curmudgeon
post Jul 16 2017, 12:27 PM
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QUOTE(AuthorMusician @ Jun 21 2017, 01:47 AM) *
Heh, just got a vision of the Trump library -- just a TV tuned into Fox News. No books, maybe tapes? Everything's encrusted in pigeon poop, since the electorate got informed, vigilant, and refused to pay for the walls. No walls = no roof = all for the birds.

Thanks, I love the image!

If the point of the Emoluments Clause is to avoid corruption, how effective is it? If not very effective, what would work better?

A therapist once told my brother, "People generally can ignore incest and nepotism as long as you keep it in the family."

Congress will likely not pass any new laws which prevent them from benefitting from new legislation, but defining what a future POTUS can legally do is likely in the nation's best interest. DT is unlikely to sign it if he actually reads it and understands the implications, but...

I have a scenario that I like to envision. However, PE is afraid to have me actually write a letter to anyone in Washington at the moment...

Imagine though, What if John Boehner were to take Mike Pence and his mechanical monkey out to lunch and tell him how relaxing it is to be retired. Perhaps, he could suggest that Donald Trump could issue Mike Pence a blanket pardon using the language that Gerald Ford used to pardon Richard Nixon. He could retire with the illusion that he had done something wrong, but would be beyond prosecution,

Trump would have to nominate a new VP, but he would have to be approved by the House and the Senate amid much public speculation as to what did Pence do? Pence would likely be called to testify before any number of committees and could not plead the Fifth...

I really expect Donald Trump tp be the first President to be removed from office by impeachment, and I can envision him threatening to sue the Congress and the Senate to get his job back!

I aeriously doubt that Trump or Pence understood the oaths of office that they took!
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