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Could President-elect Trump’s Business Dealings Violate the Constitution?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 11:07
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At the New York Times, Adam Liptak has a story on whether President-elect Trump’s business dealings–in particular the possibility that he may use his presidential power to secure business advantages–would violate the obscure Emoluments Clause of Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution. Since the clause has never been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, we’ll have to do some guesswork.

The short answer: very possibly, but it will depend upon the facts of the situation.

The longer answer: whether or not Trump’s dealings violate the text and original public meaning of the Emoluments Clause, it should be highly concerning to everyone that the President-elect seems committed to still being closely involved in his businesses. Unless he wants a pall of suspicion hanging over his every move and every phone call to a foreign official, the President-elect should immediately place his businesses in a blind trust in order to maintain at least the semblance of propriety.

In the text, the Emoluments Clause prohibits any Person holding “any Office of Profit or Trust” under the Constitution from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Immediately, it is clear that the text limits the clause to gifts from foreign governments and the officials.

The original public meaning of the clause also confirms this interpretation. Foreign kings and princes once gave lavish presents to American officials, for example, a diamond-studded snuff box given to Benjamin Franklin (then ambassador to France) by Louis XVI. The Framers were concerned that these gifts would corrupt our officials, and so they prohibited them.

The next relevant consideration is whether, if Trump’s businesses receive a “gift” from a foreign government, Trump himself may be violating the Emoluments Clause. There is certainly an argument for this, since he benefits from the gift, even if only by increasing the value of his brand and stock holdings.

Finally, what sort of things would be a “gift” from a foreign state? According to one report, Trump has already asked Mauricio Macri, the Argentine president, whether he would help with permitting issues that are holding up the construction of a major office building in Buenos Aires.

If such a deal was made, would the permit be a “gift” from a foreign state? Very likely. Valuable gifts from members of foreign governments need not come in the form of diamond-studded snuff boxes, they can certainly be building permits worth several millions of dollars.

The final problem, however, is should such a gift occur, will anyone be able to bring a constitutional challenge against it? In order to bring a case to court, a plaintiff must have “standing,” meaning, among other things, that they must be actually harmed by the alleged violation. It is hard to say who would be harmed by such a gift. Perhaps a competitor of Trump businesses, but that may be a stretch.

Nothing would prevent the Congress, however, from impeaching Trump on those grounds. Over the next four years, members of Congress should remain vigilant against the possibility of President Trump using the presidency for personal gain.

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  • Well, where was the new york times on hillary clinton and the clinton foundation and the BILLIONS that went missing??? They have yet to report on it! They have less than zero credibility!
    Speculation is not NEWS!

  • It makes no difference -Cato Institute, NY Times, et al… here is some education for you.

    The Bankruptcy of The United States
    United States Congressional Record, March 17, 1993 Vol. 33, page H-1303

    Speaker-Rep. James Traficant, Jr. (Ohio) addressing the House:

    “Mr. Speaker, we are here now in chapter 11.. Members of Congress are official trustees presiding over the greatest reorganization of any Bankrupt entity in world history, the U.S. Government. We are setting forth hopefully, a blueprint for our future. There are some who say it is a coroner’s report that will lead to our demise.

    It is an established fact that the United States Federal Government has been dissolved by the Emergency Banking Act, March 9, 1933, 48 Stat. 1, Public Law 89-719; declared by President Roosevelt, being bankrupt and insolvent. H.J.R. 192, 73rd Congress m session June 5, 1933 – Joint Resolution To Suspend The Gold Standard and Abrogate The Gold Clause dissolved the Sovereign Authority of the United States and the official capacities of all United States Governmental Offices, Officers, and Departments and is further evidence that the United States Federal Government exists today in name only.

    The receivers of the United States Bankruptcy are the International Bankers, via the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. All United States Offices, Officials, and Departments are now operating within a de facto status in name only under Emergency War Powers. With the Constitutional Republican form of Government now dissolved, the receivers of the Bankruptcy have adopted a new form of government for the United States. This new form of government is known as a Democracy, being an established Socialist/Communist order under a new governor for America. This act was instituted and established by transferring and/or placing the Office of the Secretary of Treasury to that of the Governor of the International Monetary Fund. Public Law 94-564, page 8, Section H.R. 13955 reads in part: “The U.S. Secretary of Treasury receives no compensation for representing the United States?’

    Gold and silver were such a powerful money during the founding of the united states of America, that the founding fathers declared that only gold or silver coins can be “money” in America. Since gold and silver coinage were heavy and inconvenient for a lot of transactions, they were stored in banks and a claim check was issued as a money substitute. People traded their coupons as money, or “currency.” Currency is not money, but a money substitute. Redeemable currency must promise to pay a dollar equivalent in gold or silver money. Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) make no such promises, and are not “money.” A Federal Reserve Note is a debt obligation of the federal United States government, not “money?’ The federal United States government and the U.S. Congress were not and have never been authorized by the Constitution for the united states of America to issue currency of any kind, but only lawful money, -gold and silver coin.

    It is essential that we comprehend the distinction between real money and paper money substitute. One cannot get rich by accumulating money substitutes, one can only get deeper into debt. We the People no longer have any “money.” Most Americans have not been paid any “money” for a very long time, perhaps not in their entire life. Now do you comprehend why you feel broke? Now, do you understand why you are “bankrupt,” along with the rest of the country?

    Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) are unsigned checks written on a closed account. FRNs are an inflatable paper system designed to create debt through inflation (devaluation of currency). when ever there is an increase of the supply of a money substitute in the economy without a corresponding increase in the gold and silver backing, inflation occurs.

    Inflation is an invisible form of taxation that irresponsible governments inflict on their citizens. The Federal Reserve Bank who controls the supply and movement of FRNs has everybody fooled. They have access to an unlimited supply of FRNs, paying only for the printing costs of what they need. FRNs are nothing more than promissory notes for U.S. Treasury securities (T-Bills) – a promise to pay the debt to the Federal Reserve Bank.

    There is a fundamental difference between “paying” and “discharging” a debt. To pay a debt, you must pay with value or substance (i.e. gold, silver, barter or a commodity). With FRNs, you can only discharge a debt. You cannot pay a debt with a debt currency system. You cannot service a debt with a currency that has no backing in value or substance. No contract in Common law is valid unless it involves an exchange of “good & valuable consideration.” Unpayable debt transfers power and control to the sovereign power structure that has no interest in money, law, equity or justice because they have so much wealth already.

    Their lust is for power and control. Since the inception of central banking, they have controlled the fates of nations.

    The Federal Reserve System is based on the Canon law and the principles of sovereignty protected in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, the international bankers used a “Canon Law Trust” as their model, adding stock and naming it a “Joint Stock Trust.” The U.S. Congress had passed a law making it illegal for any legal “person” to duplicate a “Joint Stock Trust” in 1873. The Federal Reserve Act was legislated post-facto (to 1870), although post-facto laws are strictly forbidden by the Constitution. [1:9:3]

    The Federal Reserve System is a sovereign power structure separate and distinct from the federal United States government. The Federal Reserve is a maritime lender, and/or maritime insurance underwriter to the federal United States operating exclusively under Admiralty/Maritime law. The lender or underwriter bears the risks, and the Maritime law compelling specific performance in paying the interest, or premiums are the same.

    Assets of the debtor can also be hypothecated (to pledge something as a security without taking possession of it.) as security by the lender or underwriter. The Federal Reserve Act stipulated that the interest on the debt was to be paid in gold. There was no stipulation in the Federal Reserve Act for ever paying the principle.

    Prior to 1913, most Americans owned clear, allodial title to property, free and clear of any liens or mortgages until the Federal Reserve Act (1913)

    “Hypothecated” all property within the federal United States to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, -in which the Trustees (stockholders) held legal title. The U.S. citizen (tenant, franchisee) was registered as a “beneficiary” of the trust via his/her birth certificate. In 1933, the federal United States hypothecated all of the present and future properties, assets and labor of their “subjects,” the 14th Amendment U.S. citizen, to the Federal Reserve System.

    In return, the Federal Reserve System agreed to extend the federal United States corporation all the credit “money substitute” it needed. Like any other debtor, the federal United States government had to assign collateral and security to their creditors as a condition of the loan. Since the federal United States didn’t have any assets, they assigned the private property of their “economic slaves”, the U.S. citizens as collateral against the unpayable federal debt. They also pledged the unincorporated federal territories, national parks forests, birth certificates, and nonprofit organizations, as collateral against the federal debt. All has already been transferred as payment to the international bankers.

    Unwittingly, America has returned to its pre-American Revolution, feudal roots whereby all land is held by a sovereign and the common people had no rights to hold allodial title to property. Once again, We the People are the tenants and sharecroppers renting our own property from a Sovereign in the guise of the Federal Reserve Bank. We the people have exchanged one master for another.

    This has been going on for over eighty years without the “informed knowledge” of the American people, without a voice protesting loud enough. Now it’s easy to grasp why America is fundamentally bankrupt.

    Why don’t more people own their properties outright?

    Why are 90% of Americans mortgaged to the hilt and have little or no assets after all debts and liabilities have been paid? Why does it feel like you are working harder and harder and getting less and less?

    We are reaping what has been sown, and the results of our harvest is a painful bankruptcy, and a foreclosure on American property, precious liberties, and a way of life. Few of our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. have dared to tell the truth. The federal United States is bankrupt. Our children will inherit this unpayable debt, and the tyranny to enforce paying it.

    America has become completely bankrupt in world leadership, financial credit and its reputation for courage, vision and human rights. This is an undeclared economic war, bankruptcy, and economic slavery of the most corrupt order! Wake up America! Take back your Country.”

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