July 14, 2017

I’D ALMOST FORGOTTEN THE WHOLE “EMOLUMENTS” KERFUFFLE: Josh Blackman & Seth Barrett Tillman, in the New York Times: Yes, Trump Can Accept Gifts. “More than two centuries ago, the storming of the Bastille was commemorated when the Marquis de Lafayette, then a French government official, gave President George Washington the main key to the demolished fortress — a gift Washington kept without asking for Congress’s permission. Indeed, other early presidents followed this tradition of accepting gifts from other nations without ever seeking congressional consent. This practice is one that Mr. Trump’s legal adversaries ignore as they attempt to redefine the meaning of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause. Federal courts should not allow them to create a new legal restriction on the president’s conduct.”

What’s more, it’s not an “emolument” at all when a foreigner stays in a Trump Hotel. The unending variety of strained legal arguments being offered for transparently partisan reasons is doing more to undermine the rule of law than it is to undermine Trump. It’s sad to see some formerly respectable people jumping on board.

Meanwhile, a thought: Say Trump actually gets tired of this and resigns. Will Democrats be happy with what comes next? I suggest that they won’t. Two likely things: Trump doesn’t actually go away, but wages full-time political war against his critics, while Mike Pence becomes miraculously transformed into Hitler, just like all Republicans do once they’re president. Then if I’m Pence I name Ted Cruz VP, because enough Dems and Republicans would fear a Cruz presidency to put the kibosh on any efforts to get rid of Pence — and enough Dems and Republicans in the Senate dislike Cruz to ensure they’d confirm him just to get him out of there. . . .

But seriously, these people haven’t thought things through, and it will come back to bite them.