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Can’t Seem To Focus On Webcomics Today

Can’t imagine why I’m so distracted today.

One thing that helped my focus, though? Called the office of my Congressional representative to make clear that it is utterly necessary to begin the process of impeachment. It will not be quick — the process for the previous title-holder of Most Corrupt And Venal Piece Of Garbage To Occupy The White House took somewhere between six and fourteen months, depending on when you want to say it started. It won’t be easy, it will be divisive (but no more so than allowing the present state of affairs to continue), but it is gods-damned necessary.

So. Call your representatives, since that’s where things start. Chairman Nadler’s subpoena for the full, unredacted Mueller Report is a good start, but it must be made clear — the power being exercised in the executive is illegitimate, the daily violations of the emoluments clause unconstitutional, and the damage to the country by all associated with this administration are not tolerable until a new election. The time to compel testimony, build a case, and refer for trial in the Senate is past. We are either a self-governing people, or we are not.

Actually, I don’t see violations of Emoluments clause. That clause forbids all Federal officials from taking gifts or payments from anyone *for performing the duties of their office.* So if, say, an ambassador acceptss an expensive gift from a ruler of a foreign country in appreciation for the job they do, that’s a violation (which is why there’s a legal limitation on the worth of what they can accept, and anything over that gets turned over to the Federal government).

But when someone rents a suite in a hotel or buys a product from a company that Trump owns, they are receiving value for that payment that has nothing to do with what he does in office. Now, it may LOOK to you like “I’ll rent expensive suites in your hotels, you sign a trade deal with us”, but there’s no direct link since they’re paying market rate for what they’re receiving. It doesn’t fit the definition. You’d have to *prove* that he was influenced. But wealthy people, foreign officials, etc. have been renting suites in his buildings for a long time before he became President. So I doubt it could actually be proved.

I’d like to see the analysis that shows that the Emoluments clause means that the President can’t own and operate a business while he was President. George Washington did. Others did as well. Theodore Roosevelt wrote books while he was President and sold them – if a foreign country’s school system had bought 1000 copes, would have have violated the Emoluments clause? I think that’s a non-startere.

1. We don’t have to speculate, we can see numbers. T-Mobile, for instance, has gone from booking about 10 nights a year at the Trump DC hotel to hundreds, since their Sprint merger came up. Diplomatic conversations have indicated that various countries have abandoned DC properties they formerly took rooms at for the Trump hotel SPECIFICALLY because they believe it will please Trump to the advantage of whatever negotiations they engage in with respect to the United States. Conversely, they believe that NOT throwing business reflects poorly on their diplomatic relations.

2. There is an ethics office that specifically deals with this. They made Jimmy Carter sell his farm. Every other president has put their assets into a blind trust. Trump has given control to his sons, who are supposed to not be telling their father how the businesses are doing. EVEN IF that is strictly adhered to — and I don’t believe it is for second — the Presidency, of all offices, should be held above even the appearance of impropriety.

That, by the way, is the very definition of misdemeanor, as in “high crimes and”: a poor (mis) appearance (demeanor), leading to disrepute. You don’t have to (as Leslie Graham insisted during the Clinton impeachment) to commit an actual crime to be judged a disgrace to the office and removed on that basis. EVEN IF Trump doesn’t meet the constitutional definition of violating the emoluments clause (which can only be determined by an impeachment trial), the appears is still sufficient grounds to say he’s incapable of representing the country without looking corrupt as hell.

No, you don’t have to commit a crime to be impeached. Impeachment is essentially a political process and an impeachable offense is whatever 50% + 1 members of the House care to day it is.

Did the ethics office force Carter to sell his farm, or did they advise it and he voluntarily did so? I was unaware that the ethics office had that power, but I could be wrong.

People are free to think that getting rooms in his hotels will influence his decisions. That doesn’t mean that it actually will, and personally I rather doubt it. I would be interested to see someone prove it. And stating that establishing that he has committed violations of the Emoluments Clause “can only be determined by an impeachment trial”, is a long way from your previous assertion that he commits violations of it daily. The bottom line is that the Founders were pretty clear on what an emolument is. While paying the market rate to a public official for services rendered might offend your (and others) sense of ethics and lead to suspicion that they are attempting to influence him (and I’ll accept that they probably are), it’s simply not an emolument.

If such was an emolument then George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt would have been guilty of such. No one has ever raised such a claim. Ordinary business transactions that provide value given for value received are not emoluments – public services would have to be directly involved. For example paying a State Department official directly for expediting a passport application (where the application itself was perfectly legal and no flat-out bribery for overlooking something illegal was involved) would be an emolument.

I certainly agree that it would be nice if the conduct of the office of the Presidency was above even the appearance of impropriety. I haven’t seen too many Presidents who would meet that standard in my lifetime, though, and absent proof of actual impropriety I don’t think a debatable appearance of such is worth impeachment, never mind conviction.

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