Before becoming President Trump, Donald Trump was known for his real estate empire and his boardroom reality show, “The Apprentice”. Having taken the grandest of promotions, one would assume that Trump would have left his other pursuits behind him. Many called for Trump to place his business holdings in a blind trust. This would completely separate his business life from his role as president.
According to Jim Zarroli at NPR, President Trump is already facing a lawsuit from some of the leading ethics experts in the country. The persons bringing the suit include Richard Painter, ethics advisor to George W. Bush, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, as well as Deepak Gupta, a leading Supreme Court litigator. The suit alleges that since Trump remained in direct possession of his properties that as soon as he swore the Oath of Office, he violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
For those unaware, the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution is Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8: “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.”
The lawsuit argues that “these violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause pose a grave threat to the United States and its citizens. As the Framers were aware, private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders, and entanglements between American officials and foreign powers could pose a creeping, insidious threat to the Republic.”
The suit addresses both Trump’s domestic and foreign properties. At Trump Tower in New York City, both the Chinese and United Arab Emirates governments lease space from the Trump Organization. In addition Trump owns properties in Turkey, Scotland, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia that all require some form of government permit or exception.
The group that brought the suit worries that when Trump the President negotiates with these countries, he will actually be looking out for Trump the business man.
The Trump team has denied these allegations and asserts that the Emoluments Clause only forbids payments made to a president and that if a foreign government chose to pay money to the Trump organization that did not equate to giving money to President Trump himself.
I am no Constitutional lawyer, but it does appear to me that President Trump may have something to gain as a businessman when he negotiates with other countries. The gains may not even be intentional or a conscious decision, but there is still a possibility.
If I were the President that would cause me to worry that I was being motivated by the wrong reasons. The easiest thing to do in order to remove all doubt would be for Donald Trump to place his business holdings in a blind trust so that he would have no interference between personal and public life, whether intentional or not.