If you can credit President Trump with a single accomplishment, the reintroduction of the word “emolument” to everyday usage is perhaps the least harmful of any of his actions during his term to date.
While bringing the concept of emoluments to public attention may have been a beneficial act, the fact that the president continues to benefit from the foreign financial windfall at the many hotel and resort properties that he still owns — and that many global diplomats continue to patronize in order to curry favor with Trump — is anything but benign.
The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution forbids U.S. officials from receiving “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” without the consent of Congress.
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Objections to the president’s violation of the clause have been raised on multiple fronts, but a judge in one of the several lawsuits filed against Trump to hold him accountable for his flaunting of this basic principle of clean government just provided a victory for the congressional Democrats behind this particular suit.
According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan denied a request by Justice Department attorneys arguing on President Trump’s behalf to put the case on hold to allow an immediate appeal to a higher court in a significant defeat for the president.
The judge’s decision means that he can now make a final ruling in the case — which he expects to do within the next six months — leaving whichever side loses the decision eligible to appeal to a higher court after his initial ruling.
The newspaper reported that the Justice Department plans to “make an emergency plea directly to an appeals court in Washington, a long-shot legal tactic that is rarely granted in ordinary litigation.”
Unless the president’s government lawyers are successful in receiving that emergency injunction, the Democratic plaintiffs in the case can begin obtaining business records from the Trump Organization relating to the properties in question.
Those records will allow the congressional Democrats to try to prove the central premise of their lawsuit: that President Trump “deprives the American people of assurance that their highest elected official is pursuing their best interests with undivided loyalty.”
Given the opinion that many people hold about President Trump — that his only undivided loyalties are to himself and his own enrichment — it is doubtful that he would ever be capable of pursuing the best interests of the American people.
At least now we will soon have an official judicial ruling on the matter to confirm or deny our opinions.
Hopefully, the judiciary can stop the president’s blatant profiteering from his office, as the founding fathers intended the emoluments clause to function.
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Original reporting by Byron Tau at The Wall Street Journal.