emoluments and presumed conflicts of interest

Betsy’s had a problem with Trump that has tainted her commentary in the past. Today she highlights some red meat that the left is going to be flaying for ever.

Trump’s global business interests also make him vulnerable to legal risks, including a passage in the Constitution, known as the emoluments clause, that forbids government officials from receiving gifts from a foreign government.

How to separate out an unconstitutional gift from just a generous deal that a foreign country might make with Trump?

Much of this concern falls into the ‘anticipatory’ category. i.e. FUD Mongering. It highlights up a modern idiom and obsession that has only received little comment so far. This is the post-60’s taint-of-money idea. Have money? You’re evil! — follow the money, that’s all that matters – you can buy anything and anybody.

Trump has shown that there is more than money in elections. His cost per vote was well below that of his competition. Now he is into the stage where the politician’s assets all get sold off and moved into a blind trust. That runs square into a problem in that much of the value of Trump’s assets is his brand on them. Politicians all over the world are faced with premiere hotels branded with the Trump name.

The quote indicates a part of the problem. There is the presumption that there will be a “generous deal” to worry about. That is a worry about future business, not current business. Any pending deals or plans can be easier to set aside than an existing and established brand.

There is also the interesting aspect seen from how Trump is dealing with the President’s salary and the White House. It is quite likely that Trump will host foreign leaders on his property if he visits other countries. In other words, he would be giving and not receiving. That alone should strike greed and envy chords in the current crown that is taking prestige from the office rather than giving it. There is a long history of foreign dignitaries visiting the personal estates of Presidents and it will be interesting to see how this works out with Trump.

One thing we can count on is the antagonism, the nitpicking, the innuendo, the allegations, and general hateful and spiteful opposition. It might even surpass that seen after the Iraq war implications sank in after 2004. What might be a bit new is that there is now a reference for comparison, the Clinton Pay for Play scandal. That, and Trump’s penchant not to lie down, will make things interesting.

UPDATE: Ned Barnett discusses the real issues behind Trump and the ‘Blind Trust’. “focused on the faux issue of the difficulties and challenges and, of course, Trump’s moral failings — over his plan for putting his wealth in a “blind trust” to be managed by his children. There seem to be two conflicting positions — and most pundits and rhetorical question-askers seem to embrace both of them.” 

Oh! Here’s another one: Jonathan H. Adler on The Emoluments Clause — is Donald Trump violating its letter or spirit? He concludes “In other words, if there are concerns about how President Trump handles his various investments, the only remedies will be political.”

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