Donald Trump, since he took over the reins of the executive branch of government, still remains and acts in the same manner by which he's regarded emoluments clauses to the point of totally casting such restrictions aside.
In simple verbiage, the once-obscure constitutional provisions adopted by the nation's founders were meant to prevent corruption of public officials.
One such clause has this to state: prohibits officials from accepting "any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever" from foreign governments unless Congress approves; another bars presidents from getting payments from federal or state governments other than their salaries.
Running through the contents of the emoluments clauses, all based on what's been determined as 'simple and sound,' --that the nation's security and well-being are threatened when those entrusted with acting in the public interest use their office for private gain.
There was no need to invoke the subject of emoluments until Trump was sworn into office on January 20.
Records indicate how past presidents were generally transparent about their financial holdings, i.e., placing their assets in blind trusts and releasing their income tax returns. The whole world knows how the 45th president has gone against the emoluments clauses.
Trump, as he has been known, has a global empire of hotels, real estate, golf courses and other businesses awash in foreign money. He has adamantly refused to follow the right steps as underscored in the constitution.
Instead, Trump has stepped away from the day-to-day management of the organization that carries his name as he retains his ownership in it.
Officialdom has not held its breath as circumstances continue to grow.
The Republican-led legislature seems to act like it has no interest in holding Trump to account for his empire. Therefore, the sole option left now belongs to the all-important role of the federal courts.
One central issue for the courts would be: how to determine the proper meaning of "emoluments." Does the term refer solely to those benefits given in exchange for an "official's personal services," just as what is the comprehension of the White House?
Or, does the term refer to "anything of value," an official receives while discharging his duties in office?
Although the case could be thrown out on certain grounds referring to Trump's official duties, as president, he exemplifies a walking emoluments-clause violation.
The well-known obstinacy of the Trump refusal to release his tax returns and other financial records will remain as general knowledge of the American public that their supposed leader has not acted in the nation's best interest.
The American populace will still hear from the courts.
And the plaintiffs will not rest until a decision about how to comprehend the emoluments clause will be regarded by the 45th president himself.
Who are the plaintiffs?
They, who made the first-ever lawsuit to accuse a president of violating the now well-publicized emoluments clause are the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, a bipartisan watchdog group that has highlighted the conflicts between Trump's duties as president and his "vast, complicated and secret" web of business interests.
The plaintiffs enumerated the Trump Tower in New York, where foreign-government-held entities, i.e., the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China hold leases that are expected to come up for renewal during Trump's term; there is the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where foreign diplomats are said to pay top dollar to sleep, eat and do business with the United States. Elected federal officials which term does not exclude Trump himself are prohibited from holding the lease to the hotel.
Since the emoluments suit's filing, plaintiffs who vigorously complained of unfair competition in the hospitality industry, have joined in.
Two separate federal suits have likewise charged Trump with violating the emoluments clauses -- one by close to 200 Democratic members of Congress and the other by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Granted the case would be thrown out on such grounds, i.e., whether the plaintiffs 'have standing to bring the lawsuit, because they had not shown concrete ways through which President Trump's actions had directly harmed them, it will still be an all-important marker that the Constitution cannot be shunted aside.
How the American people can ever be confident that Mr. Trump, who has, in his lifetime displayed fully his role as a money-obsessed deal maker, will be proven.
The case will be of virtual significance because of its being a first that involves the supposed Number One citizen of the United States.
- Published in Ludy Ongkeko