“Pssst. Hey, you got the stuff?”
“You know I do, man.”
“Is it primo?”
“Always. Yo, don’t get too close. You’ll crush the emoluments.”
“Sorry, dude, but I gotta get my fix.”
(Thank you, thank you. I’d like to thank the Academy for giving me this award for Best Drug-Dealing Dialogue Written by a Fifty-One Year Old.)
Today’s word is emoluments. I know it sounds like a banal drug or an anti-wrinkle facial cream or even a lame rapper straight outta Hartford, CT. But it’s in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 9:
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.
(Apparently Reince Priebus hasn’t told King Trump about this passage.) Basically, anyone holding office is barred from receiving any gift, present, or emolument from a foreign power because it could be construed as a bribe. Emolument comes from the Latin emolumentum, which means “profit or gain” as well as “grind out.” And the Founding Fathers were very adamant about stopping foreign governments from gaining favor by way of any sort of grinding. (If you want to hear the origin story of the Emoluments Clause, listen to this Planet Money story. It’s an entertaining twenty minutes and it involves Benjamin Franklin and diamonds from France!)
As I mentioned previously, the lawyers, with the Law draped around their shoulders like Superman’s cape, are coming to save us. Just three days after the inauguration, a lawsuit was filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). They argue that this clause prohibits Trump’s big business conglomerate, especially his hotels, from accepting anything of value from a foreign government without congressional consent. In response, Trump has promised to give his profits from foreign governments to the United States Treasury. To which the CREW lawyers replied, “Pound sand, oh Great Orange One.” Or if you prefer the true facts, they said that “the Constitution provides for no such exception or remedy to this clause.” Taking it a step further, the superlawyers claim that the only way to know for sure what Trump has received from foreign governments is to……..wait for it…….check his tax returns. And they plan on using the discovery process of the lawsuit to make the returns public.
So there you have it. The lawyers use the Constitution to fight President Trump. His tax returns surface and the American people see what he is actually made of in the end. Does this mean impeachment? Who knows? I’ll let Congress decide. And how many members of Congress have a law degree? Approximately, 39 percent of the House and 57 percent of the Senate. I’m telling you, the lawyers will save us.
Power to the People,