Calls For Impeaching Trump Must Include Emoluments Clause Violations [Opinion]
Several lawmakers in Congress — including a majority of Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives — are in favor of either beginning impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, or even drafting articles of impeachment outright.
There are many reasons why such calls may be warranted. Trump has, according to the Mueller report, acted inappropriately, obstructing an investigation into his own conduct, an action which, when he’s someday no longer in office, could warrant criminal charges against him, former special counsel Robert Mueller admitted in testimony last month.
But any calls for impeachment should also include mention of the Emoluments Clause, which forbids gifts from foreign states to the president.
The last clause of Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution limits what officers of the United States can accept when it comes to foreign praise or gifts.
“No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States,” the Constitution reads, “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.”
Emoluments are payments made to officials, sometimes done as favors or in recognition of their deeds. President Barack Obama skirted the emoluments question when he won the Nobel Peace Prize early in his term by donating the awarded prize money to charity, CNN reported.
Trump, however, directly benefits every time a foreign leader or their representatives comes to the United States and stays in one of his properties. It’s unclear whether that’s a violation of the Emoluments Clause or not, but it should be given substantial consideration.
And if Trump is successful in scheduling the next G7 Summit at his Doral Miami Golf Resort next year, as he’s said he’s hoping to do, it ought to be included in potential articles of impeachment against him — whether it violates the Emoluments Clause or not.
Impeachment doesn’t require an actual law to have been broken by the president or anyone within his administration in order to proceed. A violation of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” as it was understood by the founders, was merely a violation of the public trust.
If Doral is indeed selected as the site for the next G7 Summit, Trump would stand to profit millions, if not hundreds of millions, from world leaders, their entourages, and their security details, staying there. It’d be direct use of his public office for monetary gain.
That cannot be allowed to stand, much like Trump’s obstruction of Mueller’s investigation cannot be seen as permissible. If Democrats are indeed set to pursue impeachment proceedings, they ought to look at the president’s plans to profit of the future G7 Summit, as well as his past profiteering off of foreign leaders utilizing his properties in the past.