I have said this before, but am saying it again. The clearest grounds for impeaching Donald Trump are not his obstruction of justice on which so much attention is being focused, but in my view his blatant and unequivocal acceptance of emoluments from foreign governments, with this most clearly evident at his hotel in Washington, with these emoluments the basis of lawsuits by the governments of Maryland and D.C. going forward slowly. But somehow none in Congress pushing impeachment have raised this issue as grounds for impeachment, even though this is something expressly forbidden in the Constitution of presidents. What clearer grounds for impeaching a president could there be?
I think there are four interrelated reasons we have not seen much discussion of this matter. One is that there has been so much focus on the Mueller Report, which focused on Russian interference in the 2016 election and the relation of the Trump campaign with that. While Mueller failed to find sufficient evidence of conspiracy, the door was left open for possible obstruction of justice, even though A.G. Barr has vigorously tried to slam it shut. And then we have seen Trump apparently doing more of it as he tries to get his whole administration ignoring Congressional subpoenas.
Another reason for this focus is that charges on this were key in the move to impeach President Nixon, with him being forced to resign as fellow Republicans made it clear they would support the move to impeach on these grounds. Needless to say, today, with the exception of Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, no Republicans are supporting the move to impeach, a major reason Speaker Pelosi continues to resist opening a formal impeachment inquiry, even as the pressure to do so rises.
A third reason is that Mueller apparently accepted the demand by Trump to recognize a “red line” around his personal finances. Those are now increasingly coming under investigation, and we are beginning to see some of his tax returns. But an impeachable focus out of what may come has not fully come into view, although possible money laundering of Russian oligarch money through Deutsche Bank is widely thought to have occurred and may soon be exposed. But is that impeachable as it all happened before Trump became president?
Which brings us to the fourth reason, we have never had a president ever in the 232 years since George Washington took his oath of office who has even remotely been suggested to have violated this very clear rule stated in the Constitution, not a poor one (and we have had a few not rich, if not outright indigent) nor a rich one. None of them, until at least now. We have not been able to think about this.
But now it is here, if partially buried in all the carryings on about so many other matters, especially this matter of obstruction of justice. But here we have a president for the first time ever clearly taking money from foreigners while in office, and in the case of the Saudis in particular, who have dumped piles of money into the Trump Hotel in Washington, acted in ways the Foreign emolumenter wants, arguably against the interests of the US. Did we need to have “Bone Saw” MBS take power in a coup supported by Trump and Kushner? Should we be rushing to war with Iran at their behest? Should we be continuing to arm them for their brutal war in Yemen?
I would like to see at least one of the people either running for president or stomping about in the Congress demanding impeachment bring this up. This is a far clearer violation of the Constituton than anything else Trump has done. This is exactly why the Founding Fathers both put the emoluments clause into the Constitution and gave Congress the power to impeach presidents. If there is a “high crime and misdemeanor” the Founding Fathers would have had in mind when they did all this, is not violating the emoluments clause at the very top of the list? Out with the crooked bumb!
well, you may be right about that, but as a person who has been heard to say “i don’t mind a little honest graft” (as opposed to policies and practices that hurt people…to death) i can’t get too excited about evan a man i despise making a little money on the side. unless you can show that he is taking money for hurting people. (i’d have said “selling out the country” but it has been too easy for the nasties to accuse perfectly innocent people of doing that…from red scare to john walker lindh ).
nor can i get too excited about “obstruction of justice” as long as “justice” in this country has come to mean officialize lynch law…such has threatening monica with jail if she did not tell the world about her sex life with bill. or other abuses of what the fourth and fifth amendments were supposed to protect us from. no longer well understood, but out of a kind desire to protect “criminals” but out of a religious objection to torturing people to force them to violate their own conscience.
no, what frightens me about trump is his flagrant violation of the constitution tending strongly toward creating a tyranny… a president with unchecked power to do evil.
and of course trump does evil, and certainly encourages it in his supporters.
and once he gets away with it, it will become the new normal. there are always people who llove a strong man…enough to keep him in power, or his heirs, until another strong man comes along, either a local boy or a foreign conqueror.
am i exaggerating the danger? no, just trying to remind you what the Constitution was trying to prevent.
it may be too late of course, but Nancy is making a mistake. Clinton got more popular after impeachment because the people don’t like the government interfering with their sex lives. no doubt the Trumpists won’t like the democrats interfering with THEIR sex lives (which appears to be getting off by beating people up) but we ought to be able to convince most of the people that Trumps crimes are far more dangerous than lying about sex. if we can’t do that, we have already lost any meaningful democracy.
Better figure that the emoluments clause is now a dead letter. Maybe the next president won’t bypass it also — maybe — but the one after won’t, nor the one after that, and the one after that, and so on. I notice a lot of internet commenters coming to the conclusion also that future presidents are going to run the country through executive orders rather than wait on a dysfunctional Congress to pass legislation.
We seem to have evolved beyond government based on a Constitution. Empire lies beyond — and emperors.
Dale and Mike,
I fear both of you are more cynical than I am, but I find the situation frustrating and disturbing. As it is, I share Pelosi’s worries about the politics of impeachment, looking at how it backfired badly on the GOP back when they impeached Clinton. That is part of why I think if Dems are going to do it they need something really constitutionally solid, and I think emoluments are it an remain a bit mystified that basically no important Dem politician has picked up on this. Here we have what, 23 Dems running for president? It is farcical that not a single one of these has picked up on this potential drum to beat, even as quite a few of them are loudly calling for impeachment, which may yet prove to be a disastrous political move, with many observers convinced Trump wants exactly that, to be impeached. All the more reason if it happens to have really solid constitutional grounds for doing it.
On the rare occasions I find myself discussing Trump with strangers, I usually hear “He’s a businessman, not a politician.” They don’t read constitutional law, don’t think of it as interesting, don’t consider it as particularly relevant to their lives, The conduct that strikes you as deplorable, they see as understandable, sensible, and even praiseworthy.
He’s against abortion! He’s standing up for America! So what if some foreigners stay in his hotels when they come to Washington?
You see the problem.
Nor, let’s admit, is Donald Trump truly unique in profiting from a political career. Lyndon Johnson wound up with a couple of television stations, you may recall. Hillary Clinton picked up a few bucks sharing her thoughts with bankers. Presidents from Truman to Obama pursued better-than-average affluence with self praising autobiographies. Trump is probably more obnoxious and hypocritical than average but he’s in a crowd, not all by himself.
Not to say that he shouldn’t be impeached or at least prosecuted when he’s out of office, but going after him for his greedy grubby sins isn’t likely to work. Impeach him instead for habitual lying, for trarnishing the image of the American presidency, for breaking the bonds between the USA and our allies, for incompetent management of his Cabinet officers, for violation of the norms of American politics. Even Trump supporters would find it hard to defend him from such charges,even Republican senators would blench at the prospect.
“even Republican senators would blench (blanch?” at the prospect.” Not bloody likely.
Definitely not the Republicans of the past. These people have no morals. Murkowski, Collins, Corker, Flake, Sasse, etc. all knew what was happening was wrong and they paid lip service to maybe doing the right thing. Collins was bought off with a Portsmouth rebuild and ship building contracts. Even in their last days when some were leaving, they still held to their party. Flake on Kavanaugh was a feeble attempt at doing what was right..
somewhere on google there is a discussion of blench and blanch. though i get a little lost in the fine distinctions, i think blench is the right word in this case. mostly i take it that words have different meanings for different people according to their experience. so i take the attitude that words don’t “mean” so much as “point.”
Or, as the Mad Hatter observed, they mean what I want them to mean.
funny you should mention that. I had a good friend on AB accuse me of taking the mad hatter position when he came up with what he thought was the technically correct meaning of a word that was the exact opposite of what i thought was the common meaning. i did not have the heart to point out to him he was doing exactly what he accused me of (whether i was also doing it or not).
lost him anyway, much to my sorrow.
so while it matters sometimes, mostly it doesn’t. and when it does, rather than fight about the “true meaning” of the word, it’s better to try to find out what each of you means.
and that’s not as easy as it sounds.
sorry about the sermon, much as i pretend not to be, at heart i am a true pedant.
i meant “accuse” not “cause.”
I checked. “Blench and “blanch” both an mean “turning white out of surprise at an unusual event.” However, “blench” has as its main meaning to suddenly twist or jerk as a result of something. I would say that “blanch” is probably more appropriate to the discussion above, although the terms clearly overlap.
i checked too. one site did say “suddenly” but i got the impression from other sites and my own experence that “suddenly” was not really a part of what people meant when they wrote “blenched.” more a stepping back away from something distasteful or frightening. need not be an actual step.
nice thing is though that whichever you say i will know what you mean.
(or maybe not. “i wouldnt touch that with a ten foot pole,” is not the same as “turning white” when you see a ghost or realizethat the cops have an eyewitness.”
or we could ask Mike Shupp what he was thinking.
BLANCH, to my mind, is a transitive verb, meaning to lighten color. “Janet blanched the beets in boiling water.” BLENCH is an intransitive verb, suggesting a sudden stop or backwards step, accompanied by pallor, as a result of shock or unwelcome surprise. “Harvey blenched as the blackmailer casually flipped covert snapshots onto his desktop.”
I’ll refrain from snide comments about neither word being appropriate since white-face is the natural appearance of all Republican politicians..
Is the GOP the source of the covert snapshots?
“covert snapshots”? Huh?
It is completely OK to say “I blanched when I heard Trump praise Kim Jong Un,” even if you are not used to hearing or seeing that.
Read Mike again, last sentence starting with “Harvey blenched.” It was tongue in cheek to Mike. The rest? Does the meaning come across as being appalled as Trump praised Kim? I think it does regardless of how you say it.
well, i’m glad i asked what Mike meant. It turns out his take on the words. is nearly the opposite of mine. but i am not going to argue about what the word “really” means.
except to note that a famous psychologist has said that people would be very surprised to learn how little we understand of what we say to each other… and how little it matters.
i know i would be more likely to turn white when i heard Trump praise Kim than I would be to suddenly stop or turn back.
So you’d blanch at Trump’s remarks rather than blench? Well, okay — but I’d guess you weren’t originally moving toward him.
Marvelous what subtleties are possible in English.
this gets a little confusing. I believe I knew exactly what you meant when you said “blench” in respect to R’s being asked to defend Trump “on such charges.” it was in respect to Trump praising Kim that I might “blanch” (more in anger than fear…there being nothing to “back away from”.
But I gathered from your discussion of the words that you “meant” something a little different from what i “mean” when i use the words (which, actually, may be never) or hear them. in which case, for me, blanch always means “turns white” and “blench” always means “draws back from” but in fact i believe that the words are now so confused in most people’s minds that either word can mean “draws back” or “turns white” in their minds. and the fact is when i hear them i don’t really make the distinction unles it becomes important, which it usually doesn’t. not even here where my pedantry was aroused by what i took to be Jack’s.
i suppose a person might blanch and blench at the same time. but yes, i think you are right “blench” seems to imply there was already at least an incipient movement toward. the troops might have blenched when they saw the forces that would be arrayed against them. they might blanch when they suddenly realize they have walkd into a trap.
Enough already? Likely so!
Amazing too where thoughts beginning in economics can lead, isn’t it?
Economics? We were talking about economics?