In just one of many attempts to remove Donald Trump from the presidency, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and his colleagues recently sued Mr. Trump for allegedly violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause (FEC) of the U.S. Constitution. As previously reported by Liberty Nation, President Trump’s business income does not violate the FEC, but even if it did, Sen. Blumenthal’s accusation might well be an epic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Apparently, the good Senator is just as guilty of violating his own very loose interpretation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause.
In his blog, Point of Order, Michael Stern asks a crucial question:
If it is that easy to receive an “emolument,” how is it that this issue has never come up before? After all, the FEC doesn’t just apply to the president or a few senior officials. The Office of Legal Counsel views the clause as applying to all federal officers and employees, meaning that millions of individuals are subject to its prohibitions at any one time.
Such broad “interpretations” would put many officials on the wrong side of the law. Mr. Stern gives an example that, if receiving a payment from a company that does business globally is an emolument, just owning shares of McDonalds Corp. could be an issue if a foreign government employee sends an intern out to buy lunch.
Even if Trump’s foreign income were an FEC violation, the Connecticut Democrat is one of the worst possible choices for an accuser. As it turns out, he’s insanely rich; his net worth is no less than $67 million, according to financial disclosures, and might be as high as $104 million. He’s one of the wealthiest men in Congress. Additionally, he has a significant financial interest in at least 18 commercial buildings and three real estate management companies. One of those commercial buildings is the Empire State Building, which rents space to China’s People’s Daily newspaper.
Some might argue that the president’s foreign incomes are likely much higher than Senator Blumenthal’s, and that might well be true. However, no language in the FEC implies any minimum amount before a payment is considered an emolument:
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 any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Indeed, the language is quite clear: government officers and employees can’t accept any, of any kind whatever. Even a $5 payment would be constitutionally prohibited if it met the accepted definition of a present or emolument. The apparent hypocrisy is so evident that even The Washington Post – an unmistakably left-leaning publication – had to call foul on the Senator’s charge.
Mr. Trump’s foreign incomes, considerable as they may be, do not fall under the Foreign Emoluments Clause. If they did, then a number of presidents (never mind other officials) would have run afoul of this, stretching back to the nation’s founding when George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe all profited from private holdings dealing both domestically and abroad while in office. Even today, Senator Blumenthal would, under his own interpretation, be guilty. You won’t often see this on Liberty Nation, but this time The Washington Post has a point:
It’s one thing to argue the president should have divested himself of his hotel and other holdings to eliminate any conflicts of interest. It’s quite another to argue he’s violating the Constitution.