PE Trump and the conflicts of interest his business represent continue to taint the PE’s transition into power. Trump and his attorneys continually say that the conflict of interest laws that members of congress and others must comply with do not apply to the President. Trump went so far as to say “The law’s totally on my side, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” in an interview with the New York Times.
That statement is true if the US Constitution is not counted as law. The problem for Trump is that by definition the Constitution is law and it specifically prohibits foreign conflicts of interest.
The prohibition is found in the in Article 1 Section 9. It’s often referred to as the Emoluments Clause:
“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.”
So what is an emolument? According to Webster it is the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.
The framers of the Constitution included this clause to keep foreign governments from influencing members of the US Government through the giving of gifts, favors or monetary payments. There is no exception for the President of the U.S..
Next week Trump will hold his first press conference since the election to explain how he is going to “leave his great business” to eliminate his conflicts of interest. Hopefully, he and his lawyers are considering the Emolument Clause and will make sure President Trump complies with it.