02:54:33 pm on
Thursday 14 Nov 2019

Trump and Emoluments
AJ Robinson

When I was a child, when I was barely of double-digit age, my mom took me to see the film, Murder on the Orient Express. It was quite the lavish star-studded movie. Although, at the time, I don’t think I recognized a third of the cast.


I was new to film.

I hadn’t seen too many fancy films, yet. For me, a classic Disney animated film was the height of cinema. Yet, there’s a scene, in Murder on the Orient Express, where Albert Finney, playing the brilliant detective, interviews Ingrid Bergmann regarding the murder; now, that intrigued me.

The Bergman character pretends to be a meek little Swedish missionary that struggles with English. At the end of their talk, he tells her that he’ll make her an emolument for her work. She’s happy to hear that.

I wasn’t, though. I had no idea what of emoluments. I did know, perhaps most of the audience for film didn’t know, emoluments are payments to an office holder, probably with a quid pro quo in mind.

That’s when I got suspicious of her. I had to wonder. If she doesn’t know English too well, how does she know such a fancy word? Granted, I was just a kid, but I whispered to my mom, asking her what it meant and even she wasn’t sure. That was my first clue.

Recently that word has taken on new meaning as Trump, once more, flaunts not merely the law, but the Constitution, the very foundation upon of America. Until the Great Orange, I didn’t know that the Constitution contained something known as The Emoluments Clause. Nor did I know emoluments come up three times in the US Constitution.

Apparently, emoluments are important; office holders, especially those elected or appointed to public serve, can’t benefit, other than routine salary, from the office she or he holds. The Founding Fathers specifically mentioned such circumstances, as they saw the purity of office holders as vital to the health of our republic. The Emoluments Clause is rather brief; barely more than a single sentence, but its meaning and authority are considerable.

The idea is that presidents and high officials cannot accept gifts or money from foreigners, persons, groups or countries, as that’s a bribe. For decades, if not centuries, US presidents have been careful when it came to emoluments. Typically, once elected, a president sells all of his business interests or puts them in a blind trust.

Jimmy Carter put his peanut farm, a mere peanut farm, in a blind trust. Still, Republicans in Congress took him to task for it. They demanded a thorough investigation that found what he did to be perfectly fine.

Then we have Trump, the man who puts his personal business ahead of all matters, even his country. Ostensibly, he receives millions from Turkish concerns for allowing his name to adorn two towers. I guess cash flow knows no national allegiance.


Trump presents a quid pro quo to Zelensky.

Trump claims his call to Volodymyr Zelensky, President of the Ukraine, did not involve a quid pro quo, it was perfect. Although Trump released the notes of that conversation, which clearly present a quid pro quo, Trump claims not. Nor has he ever violated the Emoluments Clause.

Oh, he said he’d removed himself from the day-to-day operations of his companies; he shifted that to Don Jr, who works right at his side in the White House. Are Republicans in Congress outraged, upset or demanding an investigation? No, crickets; in fact, less than crickets, total silence and complete capitulation to his wishes, as with everything else he does.

It truly is amazing how spineless Moscow Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans have become. Trump could not get away with any of his shenanigans was it not for the complicity of the new GOP: Gutless Obedient Plebeians. Repeatedly he has spit on the Constitution by shuttling government funds directly into his own pockets.

How often does he visit one of his own resorts to golf? Then there are the Saudis and various other international visitors. How often do they stay at a Trump hotel or resort? How did he react to the Saudis murdering an American reporter? How does he react to their acts in Yemen? He sells these countries arms and stations troops, inside their borders, to help them.

Then there was the G-7 summit. I must say, I’m impressed that a number of people finally found the nerve to stand up to him over that one. Of course, the moment he did a 180 turnaround and agreed not to hold it at one of his failing resorts, he did what he always does: stepped forward and blamed everyone else.

At the last report I saw, he said the G-7 at Doral turnaround was the fault of the media and the Democrats. I was shocked, to be honest, that he didn’t blame Hillary and Obama. How could he miss them? Oh well, I guess they’ll be in his next tweet. After all, he’s been blaming them for the Syria debacle’ it’s merely a matter of time before they’re included in the G-7 location fiasco.

There are a staggering the number of impeachable offenses committed by the Great Orange, but I remind myself of the fact that he’s a man with no respect for the rule of law. His stance is reminiscent of a line from a poem I read in middle school. “First the alien, then the Jew, I did no more than you let me do.”

The line is appropriate, given my Orient Express reference. That was the story of a group of people that murdered one man, who is himself a killer. The poem, The Hangman, deals with one man murdering many people.


Trump will continue to dishonour the USA.

The Orange will continue to dishonour, discredit and disregard our Constitution until our elected officials or the voters stop him. Frankly, I have no confidence in the former and serious doubts about the latter. That is so very sad.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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