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Trump's 'Emoluments' Defense Argues He Can Violate the Constitution With Impunity. That Can't Be Right


Trump's 'Emoluments' Defense Argues He Can Violate the Constitution With Impunity. That Can't Be Right

Erwin Chemerinsky

When the president of the United States violates the Constitution there must be a way for a federal court to hear the case and provide a remedy. Three different lawsuits have been filed against President Trump claiming that he is violating the emoluments clauses of the Constitution by receiving unlawful payments or other benefits from foreign governments and from the United States.


At the rate the GOP controlled Congress is stacking the Federal Courts with right wing extremists, don’t count on any “imperative that the courts be available to enforce the constitution”.


When Hitler had finally risen to power and the Nazi Party was becoming the controlling factor, some of the unjust laws that were being enforced were protested by the German Legal Authorities.

  • They were told, “The law is what the fuehrer says it is. Heil Hitler!”
  • And that, as they say, was that.
  • Now, that seems to be accelerating here as the US Fourth Reich is morphing into the Trumpire. Apparently, Supremes 5-4 is enough for a start.


[quote=“CommonDreams, post:1, topic:42763”]“The president’s position is that none of these plaintiffs fits the legal criteria of ‘standing’ – that is, they can’t claim to have been personally injured so they cannot sue.  But it is hard to imagine who would have stand­ing if not these plaintiffs.  Accepting Trump’s argument would effectively mean that no one would ever be able to sue over violations of the emoluments clauses.
Long ago, in ‘Marbury vs. Madison’, the Supreme Court explained that the Constitution exists to limit the actions of the government AND GOVERNMENT OFFICERS, and these limits are meaning­less if they cannot be enforced. Trump’s assertion that no one can sue him based on the emoluments clauses would render these provisions meaningless.”[/quote] Our last basically decent President, too honest to be effective in the D.C. swamp, understood this. As quoted
in The Onion, Jimmy Carter recently stated, “Boy, times sure have changed, haven’t they?  I couldn’t help but notice that the current occupant of the White House owns more than 500 companies, has business interests across the Middle East and Asia, and owes hundreds of millions of dollars to banks he is now responsible for regulating.  It seems a touch unfair that a bigger fuss was made about my little peanut operation than all his office towers, hotels, and golf courses combined. All I had was a farm, you know? A small, precious farm.

IMHO, Tweetle-Dumb would have been better off if he had just stayed under his gilded rock.  But his monu­mental ego got in the way, so he just HAD to ‘get even’ with O’Bummer for making a public laughing stock of him at that dinner a couple of years ago.  Now the spotlight is trained on him, and although he is temporarily ‘raking it in’, it’s pretty likely that at some point he’s going to have to surrender most of the emoluments he’s been receiving while President.  I for one hope that the attention his hubris has attracted will lead to convic- tions for his previous crimes, not just the current ones, but fear that if Trumpty-Dumpty actually is impeached and thrown out of office that Pence – like Ford before him – will pardon ALL of his predecessor’s crimes, not just his Presiduncial ones, and those of his family as well.


[quote=“minitrue, post:3, topic:42763”]“Now, that seems to be accelerating here as the U.S. Fourth Reich is morphing into the Trumpire.  Apparently, Supremes 5-4 is enough for a start.”[/quote] There should be a provision that the President’s nominee is automatically confirmed after three months if the Senate does not act.  But it’s not just the Supreme Court – don’t forget all those U.S. Attorneys fired a couple
of months ago!  As noted previously, unfortunately it’s way too late to protect the entire judiciary from arbitrary evisceration by the exec­utive branch.  IMHO, the entire Department of Justice - not just the Supreme Court - should have been a third branch of our government, with the Attorney General et al - once nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate - serving for fixed terms & not subject to early dismissal by the Presi­dent but only by a 2/3 (or maybe 3/5) vote of the Senate. With a system like this this in place, James Comey and Preet Bharara would still be in office . . .


More to fear is that Trump who is immune to empathy (and apparently ethics) will plunder as much as he can, while at the same time, Republicans will continue to use him as a political shield to take the brunt of the public’s anger and deflect it from them (reelection). Trump is epically insensitive and unconcerned with the way he makes a profit. When the time comes that he must answer under the Constitution then Trump will choose to resign, Pence will tone down the publicity surrounding the Trump’s profitable (royal throne) presidency and then quietly pardon Trump and Co.

That done, Pence will then attempt to present the rational competency side of the Republican/conservative wholesale assault on the Commons, healthcare, social programs like Medicaid and…more tax cuts for the rich but will do so with less obviousness and far less crudity.

Pardon then Pounce Pence? People fear that scenario but I doubt it would even be necessary because by the time Trump is done, Pence will have very little left that will be needed to do for the conservative agenda. After Trump, one can almost imagine Pence walking around looking like he isn’t really all that busy and saying “Don’t blame me! It was already like this when I found it!”


Executives have been violating the Constitution for decades, yet only two have been held to any account through impeachment in the House of Representatives. Otherwise they face no consequences for their crimes. Obama was never brought up on charges for murdering American citizens without due process or for attacking Libya, and neither Bush was held to account for their illegal wars. Reagan saw no prison time for Iran-Contra even though he clearly sold weapons to Iran and then funneled the money to terrorists in Nicaragua who were trying to overthrow the democratically elected government there. Hillary Clinton has yet to face any consequences for arming violent extremists or for orchestrating the overthrow of foreign governments. Why should Drumpf, as horrendously corrupt as he is, seriously believe he isn’t above the Constitution when no one seems willing to go after other politicians for their violations?

This is why I have long held that Gerald Ford should have faced impeachment and prison for pardoning Richard Nixon, a clear obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal. Once you set the standard that the powerful can commit any crime no matter how horrendous and get away with it, it’s nearly impossible to close up that can of worms because each succeeding executive will be emboldened to commit more and worse abuses, until the Constitution exists only on paper and never in practice. Right now we have no functioning, recognized Constitution in the United States; it has been ignored so often that it no longer applies.


Right! I wish I could find my copies of the letters and articles I wrote when it became apparent that Noxin was was going to be allowed to resign, and that a pardon was in the offing. They’d fit right in today. I called for impeachment of Ford for that action, but mostly was just laughed at.

  • Ford’s answer to all of the protests (I was not alone) was that the country had suffered enough, and further attacks on Noxin would tend to denigrate the office of the Presidency.
  • My answer to that was that the office could not be more denigrated than to have a crook and con man rip off this country and then have all of his crimes pardoned. I said that that decision would tell any two-bit crook that, if he/she became President, the sky was the limit as he/she would never have to account for or be punished for their crimes.
  • And so it has come to pass as grifter after grifter has passed through the Office, committed every crime from graft and corruption to illegal war on the countries of their choice and have been pardoned or excused for their actions.
  • I was born in the 1930’s and grew up in the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America. That nation no longer exists. We now try to exist in the most dangerous “Banana Republic” the world has ever seen, which, since 2000, has morphed into the US Fourth Reich and is now finishing the job by becoming an Oilagarchy sometimes referred to as the Trumpire. The level of criminality has continued to grow, unchecked, through quite a few Presidents, with no sign of real concern or reversal by our alleged government “of the People, by the People and for the People.” It has now just become an instrument to feed the unchecked and insatiable greed of the Oilagarchy.


The flibbertygibbet falderal and ladeeda are the chaos waves generated by the bankster-cum-mafia-in government slathering intentional ambiguities in " hearings" and " memos" etcetera to FORCE abandonment of US law for the currently-under-construction “global” version. Here is a good sound start on tracking the EVIDENCE of the skid marks left by these defecators of dastardly deeds.


What people seem to forget is that a President may pardon any criminal except one who is actually impeached. That was the scam with Noxin. He would have been impeached successfully. Successful impeachment would have meant that he could no longer hold any position of trust in the government, and that he was liable to stand trial for his crimes. He could not be pardoned. That meant all the dirty laundry from his administration would have been hauled out to view and discuss.

  • However, if he resigned and was pardoned, all the laundry could remain in the basket in the basement.
  • And so it came to pass with Noxin. I’m sure that is in the playbook now, in case of a pending impeachment. If trump is impeached, this whole crooked government would be exposed to We the People’s gaze at the trial. So, if it becomes obvious that he will be impeached, he, too, will resign (or otherwise leave office) and Pence will pardon him, end of story.


“SAD!!” . . .   but true.