Explaining the Emoluments Clause and Why It Should Matter to You


Ford Watkins, Staff Writer

On January 20th, Donald Trump changed titles.  He changed titles from president-elect to President of the United States of America.  Whether you like it or not, it happened. However, Trump could still very well be impeached.  Why? Trump owns a company, or rather a brand.  He owns direct stock in plenty of other companies, and holdings in even more businesses.  His family also has holdings in some businesses.  All of these possess a conflict of interest, which could easily impeach him.  He says he could give his company to his kids, but he can’t.

It’s a conflict of interest.

Don’t let me tell you.  Let the top ethics lawyers of the last two presidential administrations tell you.  “A president is not permitted to receive cash and other benefits from foreign governments,” says Norm Eisen, Obama’s special counsel for ethics law.  Eisen also calls it “frankly and nakedly unconstitutional.”  Richard Painter, B.A. from Harvard and J.D. from Yale, who was an assistant counsel on ethics law for George W. Bush, agrees with Eisen.

The Wall Street Journal says there are more than 500 ways Donald Trump presents a conflict of interests.  So, the conflict of interests defies the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution.

This is what the emoluments clause says: “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.” Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8.

This is why Jimmy Carter had to sell his peanut farm.  Read that again.  I don’t think a peanut farm would be a detriment to our country, or an interruption to Carter’s presidency. Still, he followed the U.S. Constitution.  So did George W. Bush.  As Governor of Texas, Bush, then owner of the Texas Rangers, had to put his stake in the team in a blind trust. He followed the U.S. Constitution. So did plenty of presidents before him.

There is no denying that Trump has to do this.  Any ethics lawyer with a few degrees and a brain could put him in a lawsuit.  Also, people will.  Trump has a negative net rating for his approval.  I know there are people that like him, but there’s no denying that some people don’t.