Amid evidence that Trump has been using the office of President in order to conduct business meetings, the Chief Ethics Counsels for President George W. Bush and Barack Obama are introducing a legal argument in an attempt to convince the Electoral College to reject Trump under the Emoluments Clause.
The clause states 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.”
Norman Eisen, counsel for President Obama, has said in reference to a stream of payments from Trump’s foreign investments, “the notion that [Trump’s] solicitation of those payments and the foreign governments making those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable.” George W. Bush’s counsel, Richard Painter, also stated, “I don’t think the electoral college can vote for someone to become president if he’s going to be in violation of the Constitution on day one and hasn’t assured us he’s not in violation.”
Asked if there was a way that Trump could become President without violating the Constitution, Eisen stated, “He must set up a blind trust […] it’s conceptually simple and practically complex, but we know it can be done […] we’re simply asking them to follow the blind trust and an ethics firewall so it’s fair to him and it’s fair to his kids, and most of all, so it’s fair to the country. That’s what has to come first.”
When questioned what should happen if Trump were not to set up a blind trust, as he has implied he will not, Eisen responded, “It raises criminal issues. He could be investigated by the Justice Department and by the FBI. I think Mr. Comey demonstrated he doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks, so the FBI could look into this.”
The Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers with the presumption that the electoral college would function to prevent the election of a demagogue, but failing that, it would at least prevent the election of a president who acts on his own interests first and allows the country to become a secondary interest, only after his finances.
The Electoral College is slated to vote for President on December 19th, and under this kind of pressure from legal experts, there is a chance that the electoral college could vote for Clinton, or vote to elect neither candidate. Under pressure from legal experts and voters themselves, the decision electoral voters make in December is going to be subject to more public interest and scrutiny than they’ve ever been.
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