The Kerfuffle Over Trump’s Business and Emoluments

With inauguration day approaching, much is being made of the potential conflicts of interest surrounding Donald Trump’s business interests.  Trump haters are on the lookout to make sure that Trump does not enrich himself by virtue of achieving the highest political office in the land.  Trump lovers should also be wary.  I just watched an interview with a Boston University Law Porfessor named Jay Wexler and in it he made the most amazing and frankly stupid assertion – that he may have to liquidate all his business assets:

“Hes not taking over the position of small town mayor, he’s the president of the united states, he’s the most powerful person in the world, and if that means he might have to lose his business, that’s what the constitution very well may require.”

What?  He cites the emoluments clause in Article 1 of the Constitution as the legal barrier that may be transgressed:

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.

Hmm.  Aside from the fact that that clause only covers foreign emoluments, when domestic ones should also be of equal concern when it comes to the perversion of the fealty of our President (Solyndra, cough, cough), one wonders whether the Founders really essentially meant that a private business person had to choose between their business and serving as Commander in Chief for the remainder of their life.  Now there are legal means to try to avoid this, and as a non-practicing lawyer who never had any specialty in this area, I will not pretend to essay an opinion on whether the methods elucidated by Trump’s attorney in the Press Conference today is better or worse than a Blind Trust or some other legal method or framework of shielding a persons business interests for the purposes of serving in High Office.

But I would point out that a finding in favor of Professor Wexler’s position as stated above would seem inconsistent with the desire of the American People to obtain the best service they can, for it would effectively preclude most successful business people from serving as President.  And as a citizen who just suffered through 8 years of an incompetent twit who never held a job in the private sector in his life, I am refreshed by the idea of having a President who actually knows something about how hard it is to succeed in creating a world class business in the country whose business is business.  And yeah, one you built yourself – of course a reference to the odious and outrageous statement by that same above-referenced twit that “if you have a business, you didn’t build that”, a sentiment he shares with Pocahontas, the esteemed academic-turned-idiot, i mean -Senator, from Taxachusetts.

So I would reject categorically Wexler’s notion that serving as President of the country formerly known as the United States of America means you would have to permanently remove oneself from ones lifetime work.  In fact, that would fly in the face of the idea that we ought to have a Republic served by citizens rather than professional politicians, something clearly intended by the Founders, despite the fact that they tragically overlooked addressing the issue of limiting the terms of those who served, and left it up to a SCOTUS that was not intellectually up to the task of handling it correctly in their remarkably bad decision in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.

 

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