The Emoluments Clause – More Clarification About Why The Trump Presidency Violates The U.S. Constitution

Download the whole paper from Brookings.

The Emoluments Clause: Its text, meaning, and application to Donald J. Trump

Norman Eisen, Richard Painter, and Laurence H. Tribe

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 “faithfully 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.” 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 foreign powers and their agents.

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My Song To The Electors: Who Do You Stand For?

I_Voted_StickerHere is my song to the Electors. (References below that explain everything! 🙂

Who Do You Stand For? (MP3)  (Lyrics below)

Not only did Hillary get more votes than Trump, Trump is disqualified in at least one very important way.

The electoral college was created just for this reason: as a safeguard against an unqualified or disqualified president-elect. (In this case, we have both a disqualified president and millions of votes proving the electoral college is broken. Time for the electors to do their job, and stop the madness.

And yeah, next we get rid of the electoral college!

Who Do You Stand For? (MP3)  (CC-BY-SA)

Music and Lyrics by Lisa Rein.

Here we go on the roller coaster of our lives
The smoke is still clearing slowly
as we’re all scrambling
I can’t help wondering

Who do you stand for?
I’m asking you
asking you
Give me your answer
I’m asking you
asking you

We went to vote
We cast our ballots on that day
The people have clearly spoken
We told you what to do
Now it’s all up to you

Hey are you listening?
I’m asking you asking you
give me your answer
I’m asking you
asking you

Cause we’re running out of time
And there’s too much on the line
So start showing me a sign

I think you know how much it matters

Give me your answer
I’m asking you asking you
Who do you stand for?
I’m asking you asking you

I can’t ask anymore

References:

And So They Will Decide – Lawrence Lessig
The Electors Can Do It Monday: We Can Demand They Recognize the Popular Vote, On Lisa Rein’s Radar
Will Electors Vote Their Conscience and Prevent a Trump Presidency?, Rolling Stone
The Constitution lets the electoral college choose the winner. They should choose Clinton., Lawrence Lessig
Stephen Colbert Asks: Is Trump Only Violating Norms or Laws? (Video)
Lawrence Lessig: Electors Are Constitutionally Permitted To Vote Their Conscience, And Should Do So – Video and Video Transcript

 

The Electors Can Do It Monday: We Can Demand They Recognize the Popular Vote

I’m keeping this simple:

The Electors can decide to exercise the Constitutional right to choose Clinton, based on the popular vote.

This is explained in a great new Rolling Stone article, but here’s more links for those who desire them:

The Constitution lets the electoral college choose the winner. They should choose Clinton.(Lawrence Lessig)

Stephen Colbert Asks: Is Trump Only Violating Norms or Laws?

Lawrence Lessig: Electors Are Constitutionally Permitted To Vote Their Conscience, And Should Do So – Video Transcript
 

Lawrence Lessig: Electors Are Constitutionally Permitted To Vote Their Conscience, And Should Do So – Video Transcript

“I don’t actually support electors deviating from their moral obligation unless they have an overwhelming reason.

But reasons like the threat of foreign involvement in our election. Or a candidate refusing to live up to the Foreign Bribery clause by disassociating himself or divesting himself from assets that could be affected by foreign governments, raise exactly that reason.

Now we have a system. The system is the Electoral College, which has the right to make a judgement at the end whether to confirm the democratic result. And what I think would happen here is not that the electoral college would choose, but that it would go to Congress and congress would have to weigh the reasons that raised this issue and make a decision one way or the other.” – Lawrence Lessig

Full Transcript of Lessig on MSNBC below. (The host is paraphrased, since he takes too long to ask what could have been short simple questions:)

On Facebook yesterday, I notice that Lawrence Lessig said:  “We believe there are now at least 20 GOP electors considering a vote of conscience. Last week, there was 1.”

Then I saw that Lessig went on MSNBC to discuss the concept of “Freeing the electors to vote their conscience.” in “Lessig: Electors May Have ‘Moral Reason’ Not to Pick Trump.”

Turns out, Lessig has identified a group of at least 20 Republican electors that are willing to exercise their Constitutional freedom to vote their conscience.

As Lessig explains:

“That freedom comes from the Federal Constitution, of course, as Justice Jackson said in Ray vs. Blair, these are Federal officials, and the States could try to restrict them, but that case makes clear, the Framers to exercise their independent and non-partisan judgement about who to vote for.”

Transcript of rest of interview:

Host: Why did they find it constitutional that states could do this?

Lessig: Well what the court said in Ray vs. Blair was that while the states could not legally force electors to vote one way or another, they were free to create a moral obligation to say that they would pledge to vote one way or another. And I think that that’s the right rule. They can’t be forced by law, but they have an ethical obligation, once they take the pledge, and they must vote that way, unless there’s an overriding moral reason not to vote that way. And the disqualification, or the failure of a candidate to live up to the qualifications would be one such reason. And that’s exactly the issue that’s raised by this election.

The electoral college was made for this election precisely.

Host: What do you want to see happen? (Describes complicated scenario that makes any viewer’s eyes glaze over.)

Lessig: Our goal is to let the electors exercise their judgement, and at least 37 electors will make the judgement not to support Donald Trump. And if that happens, then of course, it goes to the House, and the House has to pick among the top three candidates.

A week ago. There was 1 elector who had come out and said that he was not going to vote for Donald Trump. What we believe, the three groups that I am aware of that are advising and supporting Republican electors is that there is at least 20 right now. Some tell me that the number is higher than that; it should more like 30, but I feel confident saying there’s at least 20.

Now, of course, if they don’t get to 37, I doubt any of them, beyond the one, Chris Suprun, who’s actually come out in public who’s gonna vote against Donald Trump. But if that number gets to 40, or around 40, then I think you’re gonna see a very interesting dynamic, as you see that there’s a reason for them to exercise their vote of conscience, which I think they are all struggling with right now.

Host: But these people weren’t elected? What if people got upset and “took it to the streets?”

Lessig: I agree that it’s a very serious difficult decision. Which is why I don’t actually support electors deviating from their moral obligation unless they have an overwhelming reason.

But reasons like the threat of foreign involvement in our election. Or a candidate refusing to live up to the Foreign Bribery clause by disassociating himself or divesting himself from assets that could be affected by foreign governments, raise exactly that reason.

Now we have a system. The system is the Electoral College, which has the right to make a judgement at the end whether to confirm the democratic result. And what I think would happen here is not that the electoral college would choose, but that it would go to Congress and congress would have to weigh the reasons that raised this issue and make a decision one way or the other.

Host: And you would be comfortable with the House deciding to vote Trump in anyway? You would be OK with that?

Lessig: Absolutely. Of course. That’s the constitutional rule. The House gets to decide. And, of course, the Republicans have a significant advantage in that rule because The Constitution says that each state gets one vote, and there are more Republican states than Democratic states. But that’s the process, and all we’re defending, is the constitutional right, which has been pretty well assumed by most who’ve looked at this question for some time, of these agents to exercise their judgement…

It is a real problem that this issue has not finally been resolved. The last time, Ray vs. Blair, is from the 1950s, when the court raised the question. But I think that we never thought it would be necessary until we had this election. And that’s why this is so important that we take seriously what in fact our constitution says about the right of these electors to be the emergency brake on the process of selecting a president.

Stephen Colbert Asks: Is Trump Only Violating Norms or Laws?

Stephen Colbert explains how much of the Presidential behavior, such as publishing one’s tax returns, are merely norms we have come to expect from a President, not actually required by law.

Except for Trump’s blatant conflict of interest with his hotel chain (as diplomats are already lining up to stay there, hoping to gain favor). It turns out the good old U.S. Constitution has something to say about that:

The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, explicitly states that:

“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.”

Here’s Stephen Colbert explaining “The Emoluments Clause,” which, as he puts it, is a fancy word for “bribe.”

The Law Trump’s Conflicts of Interest May Be Directly Violating? Only the U.S. Constitution.

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of The Constitution, the so-called “Emoluments Clause,” states clearly that:

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.

As this article in Business Insider explains:

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.

But Trump’s camp is denying the reports about Macri, and the president-elect tweeted on Monday night that his “interests in properties all over the world” have been public knowledge for awhile and that it’s “only the crooked media” that is making “this a big deal” now.

 

 

 

Chris Hayes In TrumpLand – They Really Don’t Understand Trump’s Bait-and-Switch

One thing we have going for us, although it doesn’t seem to be helping as much as one would think, is that Trump isn’t wasting any time showing his true colors. He could have played it cool and pretended he was going to be a rational methodical republican, like George Bush did at first. But no, Trump isn’t leaving the rash actions that he will take as president to the imagination. He’s going to throw the elderly and working class Americans of the midwest (that believed his rhetoric, and voted for him) directly under the bus, right away.

He’s doing it in broad daylight, right in front of everyone, as if to say, to the American people: “Just you try and stop me.”

Chris Hayes asked these folks questions, and they appear to be completely delusional about Trump’s true motivations and intent.

Chris Hayes in TrumpLand

Do Trump voters know that Congress is organizing to turn Social Security, Medicare and the ACA into a tax cut for the wealthy? By Dave Winer, for Scripting.com

From the post:

The Trump voters, and there were quite a few, said some things that I think they are going to learn are wrong, and that will happen soon, especially if somehow there can be cross-pollination of news from MSNBC-land to and from Wisconsin-land, they might hear about the disasters-in-the-making before they are actually complete.

A Trump voter said, with no dissension, that the racist stuff that Trump campaigned on wasn’t real. But it is real. A Muslim woman there, born in Wisconsin, she spoke with a Wisconsin accent, wore a hijab, said she was scared for herself and her family. There’s talk in TrumpLand (the one on Fifth Ave in NYC) of requiring Muslims to register, even Muslims who are American citizens. So there it is. The racism is real. Registering comes first. Then armbands, then…

Do the Trump voters know that Congress, of the same party as the incoming president, is organizing to turn Social Security, Medicare and the ACA into a huge tax cut for the super wealthy? That’s your future. No retirement, even though you already paid for it, and you can buy health insurance with money you don’t have from an insurance industry that won’t sell it to you.

They seemed confident that there would be time to vote Trump out in four years. A big misunderstanding about how long it takes to undo social programs if you don’t care about the people who depend on them.

Developments in the Recount and Electorate Situation

The pieces are starting to come together. Luckily, the recount has begun. Hopefully, the electors will exercise their constitutional duty and choose Clinton anyway. As Lawrence Lessig explained in a Washington Post OP-Ed, they have every legal right to do so.

But at the very least, hopefully, moving forward, let’s make sure we have an audit trail for future elections.

How I Came to See That the Election Needs to be Audited and How You Can Too

By Beth Martinez

What kept coming back to me that day was a 2006 Rolling Stone article about the strong evidence that Diebold voting machines in Ohio switched votes from Kerry to Bush in 2004, thus “rigging” the outcome of the presidential election. As the votes were being tallied and the majority of the country was in shock, I started thinking, was THIS election also hacked?

It’s a theory I posited to a friend on election night, accompanied by the observation that Trump often calls out his own failings as faults of others. Did he know the election was going to be rigged, so he put Dems on the defensive early on? Or is he just the king of “whoever smelt it dealt it?”