Trump Tests the Emoluments Clause

The Founders sought to shield the U.S. government from foreign influence via the Emoluments Clause, which is now being tested by President Trump’s financial conflicts, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

By Paul R. Pillar

A lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia is the second such suit alleging that President Trump is violating the clause in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits officials from accepting emoluments from foreign states.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are escorted by Saudi King Salman on their arrival, May 20, 2017, to the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo Shealah Craighead)

The principal focus of the suits is the Trump hotel that occupies the Old Post Office Building a few blocks from the White House (and is the subject of yet another irregularity, in that government officials are supposed to be legally barred from leasing that publicly owned property).

The new suit may have a better chance than the first one of establishing standing to sue, given that the plaintiffs represent jurisdictions with business interests that may lose customers to the Trump hotel because of its connection to the presidency. Earlier this year, for example, the Kuwaiti embassy, which for many years had held its national day celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel, held the event instead at Trump’s hotel.

The lost business is legally significant regarding standing to sue, and when a public official gains a commercial advantage because of his position, there is a fairness issue regarding businesses competing on an uneven playing field. But which Washington hotel gets to host embassy parties is hardly the most important question involved.

We can get a sense of the relevant concerns of the Founding Fathers by noting that the Emoluments Clause is part of a broader prohibition in the Constitution (in Article I, Section 9) that bars the granting of any title of nobility and the acceptance “of any present, Office, Emolument, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Emolument may be an Eighteenth-Century word that is not in many active vocabularies in the Twenty-first Century, but the concern about the effects of flattery and favor are at least as relevant today as they were when the Constitution was written.

Trump’s Fondness for Flattery

In fact, with the current President, the concern is more relevant than ever. The role of flattery in the Trump presidency was in full display in the public portion of a cabinet meeting this week, in which the self-congratulation from the man in the center and the sycophancy from nearly everyone else at the table was what one might expect from a meeting of the North Korean cabinet.

President Donald Trump touches lighted globe with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman at the opening of Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology on May 21, 2017. (Photo from Saudi TV)

Foreign governments have concluded that flattering Trump is one of the best ways to influence his policies. The Saudis pulled out all the stops to do so during Trump’s recent visit to the kingdom, including projecting a five-story image of Trump’s face on the side of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. In view of the output of the visit, including Trump quickly taking Saudi Arabia’s side as it subsequently lowered the boom on Qatar, the Saudis no doubt consider their efforts to have been worthwhile.

Another all-too-obvious strand of Trump’s presidency, and one at least as relevant to his ownership of unfairly advantaged hotels, is his throwing of ethics into the trash. A shameless mixing of public business and private financial interest has been a major feature of this presidency (and such steps as letting his sons manage his business day-to-day do nothing to remove the conflict of interest stemming from his ownership of businesses that profit from presidential actions).

That disregard for ethics also has set a terrible example for people around that Cabinet table and others in this administration who also have conflicts of interest. All this is a major problem even when no foreign governments are involved. Many aspects of domestic policy are being shaped by people who have private interests at stake, which often point in a different direction than the nation’s interests.

Founders’ Worries

The writers of the Constitution were concerned about this broader problem of keeping public business separate from private pecuniary interests. Another place in the document where the term emolument comes up is in Article II, which is about the presidency and the Executive Branch. Section 1 says that the president’s salary should not be changed during his term and that “he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”

An artist’s rendering of the Constitutional Convention in 1787

In contrast to Barack Obama, whose respect for the Constitution, including the Emoluments Clause, led him to request a formal legal opinion from the Department of Justice to determine whether he should be permitted to accept his Nobel Prize, Trump gives no indication of having even passing thoughts about such things, or about government ethics. His conduct in that regard is the opposite of what the writers of the Constitution sought in trying to erect a strict divide between private interests and the nation’s business.

When a foreign government is involved, in violation of the Emoluments Clause in Article I, the fundamental problem is that U.S. foreign policy may be influenced by the President’s private financial interests and thus may be shaped in ways different from what is in the national interest. The shaping need not entail a specific quid pro quo with a foreign state; general affinities or preferences, or a natural inclination to favor those who have bestowed favors — or profitable business — in the other direction may be sufficient to shape policy in ways detrimental to U.S. interests.

Moreover, the ability of foreign states to influence U.S. policies in this way is not an equal opportunity matter. Governments that are better able to do things such as holding expensive receptions at high-priced Pennsylvania Avenue hotels have more of an opportunity to play this game than do governments that are less well-heeled. Favoring the former over the latter is not necessarily in U.S. interests.

There can be a further detriment to U.S. interests that involves how other foreign governments perceive the drivers of U.S. policy, and their willingness to conform to or cooperate with that policy. If foreign leaders are left to wonder whether a U.S. president’s policies reflect the president’s private pocketbook rather that U.S. national interests, let alone interests that the two countries share, U.S. credibility suffers.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

81 comments for “Trump Tests the Emoluments Clause

  1. backwardsevolution
    June 16, 2017 at 22:12

    Akech and Jessica – you both make good points.

    I agree with you, Jessica, that the people have been run over and thrown to the curb, but they really should have opened their eyes at least 20 years ago – at least that long ago – right about the time that their jobs started going missing. The regular workers probably couldn’t have gotten a good bead on what was going on, but the unions – well, they should have stepped up in the 90’s. The union leaders (as they all go to conferences) would have known what was going on, that the jobs were all heading for China. Why weren’t they more vocal? Why weren’t they screaming? If they had, the workers would have been informed and could have started to raise hell. Where were these union leaders? I feel for the people. The country was sold out, with nary a peep from the union leaders or politicians.

    I go hard on Bill Clinton (probably unfairly), but IMO it was under his watch where a lot of the real damage was done: NAFTA, globalization, Glass-Steagall, the Telecommunications Act. This allowed the media to concentrate, allowed the bankers to loot, and allowed multinationals to profit like never before. The people got the shaft, lost their jobs, saw their wages decline, and all for the benefit of buying cheap mugs at the dollar store.

    Akech – “American voters must take some responsibility for allowing themselves to be taken to the cleaners by the very manipulators they vote for to occupy positions of power!” Yep, but it’s really too late now. They have allowed the country to be broken up into too many vested interests, all vying for their own separate causes, resulting in weakness; they don’t vote as a block.

    The stoppage of wars and affordable healthcare should be the top priorities, along with bringing some jobs back home (all the things that Trump ran on), but it looks like the Deep State are going to fight him on that. Too bad, the people should be backing Trump on this, but they’re too busy running their own agendas. They will come to regret it.

  2. June 16, 2017 at 21:29

    Not so fast, Akech. The books got cooked at least 30 years ago, the people were stripped of power, unions were decimated, jobs got sent out of country, factories closed, voting became manipulated and fraudulent, laws were changed to throw people in jail on trumped-up charges. You said it at the end of your post, how power is manipulated through money when money dominates the system. The US has a very low voting turnout because many people see how corrupt the system is. Activists have been put in jail for trying to do good, to challenge a corrupt system. Democracy is simply a word here, trotted out to manipulate the folks who still want to believe that things aren’t this bad. We tried through letters, actions, to stop Bush/Cheney from invading Iraq for fabricated reasons, but they were hellbent on getting their way and no one was going to get in their way. And it’s been nonstop war on other nations ever since. So don’t blame the people. You’ve read “1984”, haven’t you?

  3. Akech
    June 16, 2017 at 12:49

    American voters must take some responsibility for allowing themselves to be taken to the cleaners by the very manipulators they vote for to occupy positions of power!

    All elites in Congress are selected and groomed by the financiers who fund their campaigns and then paraded around the country to the public already desensitized by well paid MSM propagandist for the “make believe” elections.

    These ” elected” elites do not, repeat, DO NOT work for the interests of the earthlings who elect them; they work for the moneyed elites who selected them and manipulate the voting public into thinking the have some dogs in the game! The voting public is part of their menu.

    In the aftermath of the shooting in Virginia, there are talks about a bill that would allow these “elected” elites to carry concealed weapons while in the DC area or whenever they hold meetings in their constituencies!

    IN THEIR CONSTITUENCIES??? I do not understand why any Congress person would be afraid of or need protection from the constituents who voted for him/her, particularly, if s(he) is able to deliver on the campaign promises that got him elected. No matter how insane the voting public may be, NOBODY WANTS kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!!

    Democrats and Republicans are geese that lay tons of golden eggs to their financiers, with no egg going to the American voters who they use as springboards!

  4. cmack
    June 16, 2017 at 08:40

    wow. all concerned about the constitution all of a sudden……

  5. Wm. Boyce
    June 16, 2017 at 00:40

    You folks amaze me. You already know what the multiple investigations will find out and have reached your conclusions. Good luck with that.

    • Realist
      June 16, 2017 at 02:24

      Well, the motives of the people hounding Trump have been pretty transparent, and the Dems would do well to question what it is they really want, because close to eight years of a Pence presidency may well be what they get.

  6. June 15, 2017 at 21:21

    Well, mike, I think the rest of us posting at CN have similar emotions and we’re disgusted with the state of the world and our corrupt government. I definitely get a charge from your posts, sometimes laugh out loud! The world was a much more beautiful place before all the capitalist digging and killing. Still there is beauty remaining and it needs protection. I watched that YouTube from July 23, 2012 of “Finlandia” a second time today, the photography is so stunning. The photographer is as brilliant in his/her field as Sibelius was in his, and Sibelius absolutely loved nature. I was startled that comments were so mundane and no one noted the brilliant coordination of nature and music.

  7. mike k
    June 15, 2017 at 20:03

    Sometimes people think, incorrectly, that because I am so critical of much in our human world today, that I have no fun, humor, appreciation for beauty, art literature, nature, love, etc. This is entirely wrong; it is because I love this world so much that I spend time criticizing it and hoping to make it better. If I didn’t care, then I would not waste my time being a critic.

  8. June 15, 2017 at 19:48

    I just got back to this article to see who else posted on this topic, but it’s played out. Just wanted to say, mike, that is great your wife is a classical pianist. I discovered a great video today posted from 2012 for Sibelius’ Finlandia, with nature footage obviously of Finland’s wildlife in action coordinated with the music, brilliantly done by the photographer. Recommend it for nature contemplation, only about 10 minutes long but amazing.

  9. Ralph
    June 15, 2017 at 19:16

    Paul Pillar states: “Article II, which is about the presidency and the Executive Branch. Section 1 says that the president’s salary should not be changed during his term and that ‘he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.’”

    A small correction: Pillar should have referred to Article !!, Section 1, para 7.

  10. mike k
    June 15, 2017 at 17:21

    My wife is a classical pianist.

  11. June 15, 2017 at 14:37

    No, angry people are gunning down people on the street. There’s no organized insurrection, yet.
    I’m going to chill listening to Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto, always calming.

    • mike k
      June 15, 2017 at 17:20

      Classical music is one of my special refuges also.

  12. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 14:13


    Enjoy the zoo
    And walk down 42nd Street
    You wanna be excited too
    And you will feel the heat

    We eat the night, we drink the time
    Make our dreams come true
    And hungry eyes are passing by
    On streets we call the zoo

    We’ll make Trumps nightmares come true. He’s gunning people down on the street and not losing votes. Comey is bearing up and we’re bearing down. Get a new teddy Hope! It’s gonna be hot and wet!

  13. mike k
    June 15, 2017 at 13:48

    Watching Field of Dreams. It always touches me. If only………

    • backwardsevolution
      June 15, 2017 at 16:06

      mike k – love that movie too! Listening to your intuition, being creative, meaning. “If you build it, they will come.” It’s true in all facets of life.

      • mike k
        June 15, 2017 at 17:19

        Good to hear you like it too. I have been a big fan of sci-fi since childhood. My older brother started collecting sci-fi mags when Amazing, Fantastic, Astounding. etc. first came out. The imagination needs infinite space to take flight. It was a factor in my beginning to free myself from the straitjackets of society early on. I was a hippy before their were hippies. People thought I was insane – they e\were right, but in a way they did not understand. I did not fit the official idea of sanity. Still don’t!

  14. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 13:14

    “The guerrillas know what many don’t: It’s the era, stupid. This is the nature of the age, as Joshua Cooper Ramos describes, “a nightmare reality in which we must fight adaptive microthreats and ideas, both of which appear to be impossible to destroy even with the most expensive weapons.” Largely correct, one point merits minor amendment – it’s meaningless to destroy when it’s so cheap to get back in the game, a hallmark of a time in which Wolverine-like regeneration is regular.

    This theme even extends to more civilized conflicts. Take the Gawker case: begrudged hedge fund giant Peter Thiel funded former wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the journalistic insurrectionists at Gawker Media, which forced the website’s writers to lay down their keyboards. However, as author Malcolm Gladwell has pointed out – Gawker’s leader, Nick Denton, can literally walk across the street, with a few dollars, and start right over. Another journalist opined, “Mr. Thiel’s victory was a hollow one – you might even say he lost. While he may have killed Gawker, its sensibility and influence on the rest of the news business survive.” Perhaps Thiel should have waited 50 more years, as Columbia had to, to write his “victory” op-ed? He may come to regret the essay as his own “Mission Accomplished” moment.” Military Victory is Dead

    The emoluments present a Mission Impossible moment. They’d be better off walking away instead of being made into the walking dead. News business survives on a plan Fountaine…Create timeless memories as you experience spectacular destinations with those you love. Always more waves. Time is running out and the debt is running up to support a bigger fraud. They’re all worried about somebody elses drink. Deadend DC.

  15. June 15, 2017 at 11:21

    Wow, UIA, what are you drinking? Maybe the UFOs are getting ready to land on American territory!

  16. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 10:45

    They are like furniture. Knock on wood for the Company!

    Full disclosure. Yeah. Just me.

    Down the road we goes.

  17. June 15, 2017 at 10:00

    But mike, the rules of the game were completely changed to shut out the people!

    • mike k
      June 15, 2017 at 10:30

      Yes, that’s how they do it Jessica. To those in power, the people are the enemy. Of course they must never let the people realize this. And that is the pretense that Obama was so good at pulling off. In the classic con game, the mark (victim) must never be allowed to realize that he has been had, even after all his money is gone. This is known as “cooling off the mark.” I had a friend in a prison I visited who explained the dynamics of the con to me, speaking from his own experience in doing same.

  18. June 15, 2017 at 09:57

    And the TPP, which Trump opposes, will be supported if Pence gets in with removal of Trump. The TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaves China out of the action. What sense does that make? It is deliberate. Many are saying we are entering a new age of economic dominance by Asia, and I say more power to Russia and China, if their time has come. Uncle Sam has shot himself in the abdomen by his obsession with war!

    • Realist
      June 15, 2017 at 10:08

      The far east will never stand to be colonised ever again. That’s that. The USA can like it or lump it. The only kind of war it will not lose against China or Russia is a nuclear war, and that the USA cannot win either.

    • Virginia
      June 15, 2017 at 14:00

      We can see what TPP would have been like for the US when we see the EU suing three nations for not being willing to take in immigrants. It would be multinational corporations suing US taxpayers! The EU takes democracy away from its member nations’ people.

      Does Joseph Stiglitz ever write for CN? That would be nice.

      • Gregory Herr
        June 16, 2017 at 00:23

        Yep, TTP would be the nail in the coffin for the sovereignty of people within the framework of government. It is a corporate coup, a reach for a global fascism.

  19. mike k
    June 15, 2017 at 09:49

    You’ve got it right BackwardsE, and Realist too. The lying bastards in congress know exactly what’s going down with the Russia did it scam to get Trump. His own party is dumping him in full consciousness of the lies that they are using to do it. There is no innocence whatever in this pit of vicious vipers. They got where they are by lying, cheating, and murdering – and that’s how they are going to play the game to the end.

    The failure of the American People to see how totally corrupt and evil their “representatives” are is the essential enabling factor that allows these criminals to perpetrate their atrocities almost without any restraining influence. In this sense we are all responsible for what is happening, to the degree that we do nothing to expose and stop it.

    • Realist
      June 15, 2017 at 10:04

      They’re like kids who refuse to play by their own rules when they start losing, aren’t they? Trump unexpectedly beats them so they want to toss him from the game.

  20. June 15, 2017 at 09:39

    Brad, your point about global business dealing is the key, the whole world changed with globalization. And backwardsevolution, your point that ethics got thrown under the bus a long time ago and is still going around the wheel well, is so true. There was a Canadian on CN a couple of days ago who said “your entire country is being gaslighted…the boiling frogs analogy”. He is right, the great game is reaching a boiling point with the Trump administration. Trump opened up this scene partially with the birther movement against Obama. But even a larger part of the action is the effect of the Obama years, which included Citizens United ruling by a thoroughly corrupt Supreme Court, and the enactment of the surveillance state now ruling us. Chris Hedges has a great essay at Truthdig recently titled “The Death of the Republic” drawing the analogy between the decline of Rome and the loss of rights of the people here in America, that things will not change if Trump is removed.

    Obama and the Clintons were agents who brought about a lot of the final damage to Americans. The Bush family preceding are a very large part of the damage, of course, they have had active family agents before Bush I and II in bringing about the damage to the people for the sake of the wealthy. Congress has been turned into a complete sham show. Remember when Paul Wellstone directly opposed the Iraq invasion and spoke out forcefully against it, was threatened by Dick Cheney, and then he and his wife and daughter died in that small plane crash in Minnesota? Just a coincidence?

    It is very true that materialistic values have displaced morality in this country. The evangelicals just follow biblical precepts blindly while buying completely into materialism. Trump’s courting of Pence is part of that show, simply an act. Clinton’s church-going and God statements were also just for show, for votes.

    I think all of this anti-Russia show, which is really started by Hillary Clinton as we have spoken about, will end up actually hurting the USA. News from the world stage indicates that the curtain has been pulled back from the image of the benevolent US to reveal the belligerent world player it really is. And people don’t like it. I think the US is going to pay for its abandonment of values other than materialism, and soon. (I loved your posts, as usual, mike, good to reflect on Diogenes looking for an honest man, and, Virginia, a good reminder about the time of Dickens.)

    • Realist
      June 15, 2017 at 10:18

      All the other people in the barroom know that the drunken man with the gun is shouting incoherent demands, but he is the one brandishing a weapon so he gets all the attention. Guess which player represents the USA in this brief parable?

    • Virginia
      June 15, 2017 at 13:47

      Jessica, your statement, “The evangelicals just follow biblical precepts blindly while buying completely into materialism.” Too bad such as they have given a bad name to Christianity. Remember when there was something in Hillary’s campaign where she had said it was better to be an Evangelical then a Catholic or vice versa? I can’t remember which way she put it, but that initiated quite an alarm for her campaign staffers. At any rate, I pick up here that there are some who may love and actually try to live the precious teachings of the Bible or other moral religious persuasions. Is there anyone who posts here regularly who has not a deep sincerity? I think not.

  21. John Dhoe
    June 15, 2017 at 09:37

    “Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology”.

    That’s hilarious, if cruelly ironic.

  22. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 09:10

    I have a Hope Shines marketing concept. If she’s not a lush she will be after this. The bear clause means everybody can wear a teddy at the shore. Feed the bears shine! Trump’s working on ski resort with Putin in Syria. Comey is bearing up and is no lamb. Feed the seagulls shine! Get more orders and less flack unless you are killing them softly.

    We’re unforgiven in exile.

  23. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 07:42

    “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Art War

    Syria was a buzzard Trump op wasting millions of dollars. This is no game to lose. It plays you, you don’t play it.

    And the band plays on. Crimea river…

  24. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 07:24

    Battle of the Bands

    I hold, the passion
    For many years, i would listen
    The heavy weight upon my chest
    Like a wailing wall

    Code of silence of a dying heart
    Don’t know where the end begins and the truth starts
    When the hammer falls it falls on you
    I sit here waiting, waiting

    I pull back the veil and I just can’t breathe,
    And I fly away, fly away
    Like a song of yesterday

    Witches are on the hunt for Trump now. If musick doesn’t win the battle it will be a first in all of history. This is a rough draft. Support your local witches. She’s got an endless flight. Trump has a flight to nowhere. That’s them apples. Take the fifth and grab some sauce. We’ll be them with drums and no oil.

  25. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 06:43

    Saturday night I was downtown
    Working for the FBI
    Sitting in a nest of bad men
    Whiskey bottles piling high
    Bootlegging boozer on the west side
    Full of people who are doing wrong
    Just about to call up the DA man
    When I heard this woman singing a song
    A pair of 45s made me open my eyes

    Keep your eyes open and mouth shut. Don’t be scared…

    UIA/OCB Joint Project Ray Ban

  26. Brad Owen
    June 15, 2017 at 06:38

    The charge doesn’t make much sense anymore, not in a World of economic Globalization of ” emoluments”, where national boundaries and citizenship are almost actively discouraged, and the era of the supremacy of, and membership in, the trans-national corporation is here, full-blown. Anyone with a business background is bound to have dealings with foreign nationals. This is all about trying to keep Russia as an enemy to satisfy the needs of the MIC and the intelligence community, we having been convinced that we dare not eff with them, or we’ll induce the ugliest Great Depression ever seen, as we all just “know” that WWII ended the Great Depression (and not the other way around: that FDRs New Deal revival of industry enabled us to successfully fight and help win WWII by being the arsenal of democracy).

    • Realist
      June 15, 2017 at 10:01

      Yeah, that’s pretty much it. The issue is how approximately 4 billion people will live in East Asia and who will call the shots there. The USA is assuming that, as the sole “indispensable” country, it will be them, regardless of whatever the natives wish. That’s the “pivot to Asia” that the media has sheepishly stopped proclaiming, probably cuz it ain’t gonna happen.

  27. UIA
    June 15, 2017 at 06:38

    Project Ray Ban is working on the boob clause and the beaches are all going to be filled with topless ladies. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. It should be a good summer for photography. Grab a camera!

    UIA in exile.

  28. Realist
    June 15, 2017 at 02:24

    Trump doesn’t need the money. He would be wise to sell that hotel to his children for $1.00 just to get the critics off his back. I assume his kids are inheriting his fortune some day in any event.

    • backwardsevolution
      June 15, 2017 at 03:35

      Realist – that’s exactly what I was thinking too, sell it for $1.00 to the children. Get rid of the problem. Of course, they’re not going to stop here; they’re just going to keep coming at Trump.

      Who is running the country? It would appear that the Democrats are. The Russian sanctions that were passed in the Senate today, why are the Republicans just going along with this? The vote was 97 to 2. It’s like Trump, Tillerson and a few others want to relax or do away with Russian sanctions, but his own party is going against him, they’re just letting him twist.

      It’s obvious these Republican senators are listening to some other entity (I know it’s not the public as they could care less about them) who is telling them how to vote. Who is the director of this play?

      So Trump campaigns on wanting to do this, that and the other thing, the people elect him to do it, and yet his own party are helping to erect barriers. Unbelievable! The people are definitely not in charge of anything.

      Trump is sitting at the end of a branch and he’s all on his own. They even wrote the Russian sanctions up so that the President can’t make any changes. Put a fork in it.

      • backwardsevolution
        June 15, 2017 at 04:10

        Whoever is directing this play must have informed all of the actors long ago what was going to go down (on both sides of the aisle). They knew Trump wanted to do business with Russia, roll back NATO, stop the wars. Trump campaigned on this, and Trump, not being a slimy politician, would have actually thought this possible.

        Except TPTB didn’t want this to happen (no money in that) and they instructed everyone how they were going to vote (or else it’s “six ways from Sunday” for you). The Republican senators must have said, “Well, yeah, but how are we going to stop our own leader who wants to do business with Russia?”

        The answer would have been, “Well, don’t worry, we’ll give you cover. The media can start trumping up a bunch of lies re Russia hacking our election (or whatever), and you just look all stern and appear to believe it. Who is going to know the difference? The people are too stupid. Just act all righteous and pretend you actually buy this Russian nonsense. We’re just stalling for time here. We’ll wrap Trump up so tight that he won’t be able to move.”

        Many of the toughest questions have come from the Republican senators who are following their orders well. They must all be laughing around the water cooler.

        The citizens don’t care about Russia, though; they’re concerned with the offshoring of jobs, illegals, their safety, healthcare. But since they are tying Trump up in knots with all things Russian and they’re fumbling around with healthcare (most likely on purpose), nothing is getting done. In fact, they’re going out of their way to hurt Trump, to stall him. Both sides are doing this.

        Wow, this is diabolical. No wonder there’s no talk about going after Hillary. She’s an insider, and the Republicans (both houses) don’t want to see this either. They’re all in it together.

        Am I wrong?

        • Realist
          June 15, 2017 at 05:20

          You are right to be flabbergasted by the entire drift in American foreign policy. Two or three years ago politicians from both parties figured that American opposition to Crimea’s reunion with Russia would abate, that it was a done deal and a hill not worth dying on. Today, three years after the fact with no changes in policy or status, it becomes another rationale for imposing further sanctions on Russia, as if further blocking trade, transportation, and diplomacy with them by us and our allies (upon whom we foist these policies) will somehow convince Putin to “give back” Crimea to Poroshenko’s madcap Ukraine.

          Then Russia is rewarded with further sanctions for the gains that the Syrian government has made in recovering its own territory back from the bands of headchopping terrorists we helped recruit, train and pay. Those accomplishments by the SAA were characterised as “Russian aggression.” Finally, the 97 senators who voted not only for sanctions but to essentially change the constitution and take away the president’s role in administering foreign policy have decided to tenaciously cling to the fallacy, for which there is zero evidence, that Russia stole the presidential election from Hillary Clinton whilst in cahoots with Donald Trump. Mind you, President Trump is a member of the Republican Party and they make up the majority in both houses of congress, so this goes on only with their approval.

          So what the hell is going on here? If the latter rationale for this vote is not a hallmark of a coup, I don’t know what would be. Clearly both parties have functionally declared war against Russia and denounced our duly-elected nation’s president as a traitor working with and for our proclaimed enemy. It’s all very insane and extremely dangerous. If these fools don’t realise the implications of their actions they don’t belong anywhere near the Capitol Building let alone working in it. With their passive acceptance of Comey’s treacherous denunciations of his president during his testimony, accompanied by the contentious grilling of his attorney general who was expediently cast aside in favor of a hostile special prosecutor, I look forward to nothing but a raucous kangaroo court over the coming months or years ending in an impeachment vote and removal from office that was planned on the very day Hillary conceded the election. Yes, I think it’s that crazy and vile.

          • backwardsevolution
            June 15, 2017 at 06:14

            Realist – when the U.S. assisted with the coup in Ukraine, they would have known from the get-go that Russia would quickly seize Crimea. This would have been a given. They also would have known that Russia would not be giving it back – ever – sanctions or no sanctions. I don’t think they really cared (they’ll take it back in the future). But it allowed them to act all indignant and surprised, as if they never saw it coming, and it also gave them a reason and a cover to continue surrounding Russia with bases.

            I guess I’m going one further than you, Realist (if I’m understanding you correctly). You are probably right, but you seem to be insinuating that the senators are clinging “tenaciously to a fallacy” whereas I am saying that they KNOW that this Russia nonsense is a great big lie, but they’re going along with the lie in order to fool the American people.

            You also said, “With their passive acceptance of Comey’s treacherous denunciations of his president…” I am saying that they haven’t accepted anything, that they KNOW it’s a bunch of bullsh*t, and they’re just pretending to believe Comey.

            I don’t think Trump was supposed to win (and they’ll make sure that never happens again). But since he did, they are all (Republicans and Democrats) on the same page. They are going to take out Trump any way they can, not because they believe any of this Russian nonsense, but because they can USE it to get rid of Trump.

            God, Trump has even talked about single-payer healthcare or bringing affordable healthcare to the people. Do you think the people who are pulling the strings of the puppet politicians are going to want that subject brought up and explored? No, get rid of this sucker, and quick!

            They don’t want globalization stopped; they want the TPP brought back. They like their products manufactured overseas with cheap Asian labor. And no lobbying for former politicians for five years? What? Not gonna happen. They don’t want the stream of illegal immigrants stopped. Heck, that’s where they get their cheap labor from. They don’t care if it costs the taxpayers, so long as they profit.

            I guess I’m saying there’s no naivety or innocence at all on the part of the politicians, IMO. What they are doing is deliberate and intentional, with full knowledge that Russia did NOT hack the elections or collude with anyone. It’s all a ruse, a trick to pull the wool over the public’s eyes so that when they’re finally successful at getting rid of Trump, they’ll be able to say, “Well, look what he did!”

            The media is setting it all up beautifully. Night after night we’re bombarded with something Trump or one of his associates might have done, some traitorous act. Foreshadowing.

            I’m saying the politicians are completely BOUGHT, all of them, except for maybe Rand Paul and a few others. They are taking their orders from above and they had better go along, no questions asked. All of the back and forth between the two parties is nothing but “show”.

            The country was sold to the highest bidder long ago. They have an agenda and they’re going forward with it. Nothing but a revolution will get it back now.

          • backwardsevolution
            June 15, 2017 at 06:32

            Realist – I just noticed that in your last paragraph you said, “…I look forward to nothing but a raucous kangaroo court over the coming months or years ending in an impeachment vote and removal from office that was planned on the very day Hillary conceded the election. Yes, I think it’s that crazy and vile.”

            So maybe we are on the same page. All planned, all lies. Wow! You know, I’ve typed these same words many times, but for some reason they didn’t really sink in, not like now. This means that all elections are just for show, they mean nothing. All actors on a stage.

            It’s late. Take care, Realist.

          • Realist
            June 15, 2017 at 09:51

            Yes, we are on the same page, backwards. When I say they cling tenaciously to a fallacy, I mean they can’t stop lying. They know the truth, they can’t be THAT stupid, but they won’t admit it.

  29. Zaachary Smith
    June 15, 2017 at 01:43

    Emolument may be an Eighteenth-Century word that is not in many active vocabularies in the Twenty-first Century….

    Brother, but that’s the truth! For me at least, until about 2017 I’d have glanced at that word and assumed somebody was talking about “emollient” – the stuff in hand lotions.

    And I’m not much the wiser now, despite Mr. Pillar’s best efforts. Given all the other illegal stuff Trump has been doing, why in the dickens are the loopy Democrats obsessing about this?

    Earlier yesterday I read a piece at the Naked Capitalism site which I understood slightly better. The author concluded with this:

    So, bottom line, even if Trump is in violation of the emoluments clause, and members of Congress wish to pursue him for that reason, the appropriate constitutional remedy is not to be found via the courts, but through impeachment.

    It is getting very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Congress is populated by pond scum with a yellow streak down their backs. People who are corrupt as hell, crazy as hell, or both. It’s not a nice feeling, given the challenges which are being ignored by all concerned. The ignorant Man-Child in the White House isn’t our only problem by any means.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 15, 2017 at 11:54

      The reason Nixon never served any jail time, was because his jurors had their own skeletons to hide in the closet. If there is none among these equally guilty legislators who may cast the first stone, then what chance is there of anything being made of Trump’s conflicts of interest? Again, we come back to precedent, in a capital filled with inconsistencies whereas accountability is not to found, so then how can any standard be set to do what’s right when everything around it is so wrong? Although there again D.C. is known for its hypocrisy.

  30. backwardsevolution
    June 15, 2017 at 00:52

    “Another all-too-obvious strand of Trump’s presidency, and one at least as relevant to his ownership of unfairly advantaged hotels, is his throwing of ethics into the trash.”

    Ethics got thrown under the bus decades ago, and it’s still going around the wheel well.

    “That disregard for ethics also has set a terrible example for people around that Cabinet table and others in this administration who also have conflicts of interest.”

    Conflicts of interest, bribery, threats, assassinations, revolving door, fines in lieu of jail time, insider trading, pay-for-play, collusion, lying, cheating, stealing are not new. Take a white piece of paper and a black marker pen and start scribbling for about ten minutes. When you’re finished, realize this represents what a mess the U.S. is in.

    And what Obama was doing on consulting the legality re his Nobel Prize was covering his ass (because he’s a lawyer). If I would have done what he did, I would have handed it back and told them I didn’t deserve it.

  31. June 14, 2017 at 22:30

    The entire bought-and-paid for bunch in the District of Corruption are hardly shining examples, as the previous comments indicate. How noble of Barack Obama to consult on the legality of accepting his Nobel Prize, and then proceed to expand the “Bombing for Peace”!

  32. incontinent reader
    June 14, 2017 at 22:23

    It’s all well and good to hold Trump to the necessary legal standard but where were dear Kamala and her colleagues (and others who are now raising the Emoluments issue) when Hillary Clinton was using the coercive power of her office to put the touch on foreign leaders for the private benefit of her family and family foundation?

    • backwardsevolution
      June 14, 2017 at 23:46

      incontinent reader – they were looking the other way.

  33. Bill Bodden
    June 14, 2017 at 22:01

    Another all-too-obvious strand of Trump’s presidency, and one at least as relevant to his ownership of unfairly advantaged hotels, is his throwing of ethics into the trash.

    Any suggestions as to a former president who could be a good role model for President Trump, President Pence or any future president to follow? It isn’t likely any in the last half-century would be a shining example.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 14, 2017 at 23:52

      Although I’m not here to produce any evidence of precedent, I will tell you about LBJ & Lady Bird & KTBC. I’m leaving a link so you can read about how the Johnson’s cajoled and used LBJ’s political influence to acquire the Austin radio station which was licensed under the call letters KTBC. Lyndon was always sure to point out that the radio station and then later the tv station, were bought with Lady Bird’s inheritance, but as the linked article states Robert Cairo blows that explanation out of the water in his newest LBJ book.

      For myself, I’m assuming Trump is using his Presidential Office in some manner as to better his families financial portfolio. Is this right? Have others before Trump,done this? No it’s not right. Yes others before Trump have done this. So what to do? Good question to be asked of a pack of wolfs who only want to flush out the intruder who has entered their lair. I would be all for straightening out our government of such political conflict of interests, but this isn’t about doing what is Constitutionally right, as much as it is about casting out an outsider from the D.C. Swamp.

      By sighting such things it leaves one open to being accused of being a Trump defender. Oh God, how I hate the thought of wearing such a title, but can we at least study the history of such things as the Emoluments Clause, and go from there to decide what should or shouldn’t be set as precedent. A long time ago a Navy lawyer told me, ‘how if you don’t get caught you did nothing wrong’. Will Trump’s being prosecuted under the Emoluments Clause be a case of his getting caught?

      Seriously this 24/7 Trumpathon has more plot twist than a fifty year old soap opera, so this week it’s emoluments, which leaves me to wonder what it will be tomorrow morning. It would almost be nice if we were to discover that this anti-Trump campaign is all scripted, and Trump is in on it, because otherwise this whole matter whether it be Russia-Gate or Emoluments Clause is a major CIA/MSM/DNC coup. I mean what are we dealing with here?

      • Bill Bodden
        June 15, 2017 at 01:28

        Also there was LBJ’s cover up of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty.

        • Joe Tedesky
          June 15, 2017 at 09:37

          Yes, that happened one week and fifty years ago today. Thanks Bill, because it’s up to us to remember.

        • June 15, 2017 at 11:35

          Let’s not forget LBJ’s use of the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident to promulgate public acceptance of his need to satisfy the MIC because of his Faustian deal with JFK’s shooters. McNamara admitted the lie in his “Fog of war” film and Adm. Stockdale, who was flying CAP over the fleet that particular day always said that the VN patrol boats never fired any torpedoes.

          • June 16, 2017 at 00:23

            Geez, am I in the right place. The joint chiefs lies and deceptions still stick in my ass, and I was 15 months old when Gulf of Tonkin deceptions were played out.

      • Skip Scott
        June 15, 2017 at 08:12

        Hi Joe-

        I believe it has been the norm for previous Presidents to put their business holdings into a blind trust during their terms of office to avoid the appearance of conflict. Trump has bucked this tradition by handing over day to day operation to his kids, which is hardly blind. There is no doubt precedent of some previous wrongdoing, but I can’t think of any as blatant. Caitlin Johnstone makes the point that all of Congress should be investigated as well for ANY foreign influence, including the Israelis. I don’t think congress critters are included in the emoluments clause, but they sure as hell should be.

        • Joe Tedesky
          June 15, 2017 at 09:52

          Yeah Skip, I’m curious to how these conflicts of interest get decided, and when to do that. When it comes to Trump I would rather go after him for the Emoluments Clause as opposed to our media making wild accusations over Russia-Gate. All and all we are getting what we deserve since I can’t remember when anyone in D.C. was held accountable for anything ever. Let’s face it, our government is loss in the wilderness of corruption. Whether it be foreign or domestic donor money everything in our nations capital is built around a core of conflicting self interest. Come to think of it, why doesn’t some good doer in Washington put a stick in the revolving door? Could it be they would lose a lot of money, if the did?

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 15, 2017 at 10:33

        Here is a article from which describes the goings on in Washington over Trump’s business dealings.

        • Skip Scott
          June 15, 2017 at 10:43

          Thanks Joe. Also BTW, I think Al Franken has introduced a bill to “put a stick in the revolving door.” I’ve got mixed feelings about Franken, but I think he’s dead right on that. He is proposing a lifetime ban on congressmen becoming lobbyists.

          • Joe Tedesky
            June 15, 2017 at 11:07

            I too have mixed feelings over Franken. Isn’t it odd for how we continue to lower the bar with our assessments of these D.C. Creatures?

  34. mike k
    June 14, 2017 at 22:00

    The Great Illusion is that our difficulties arise due to outside factors, which if they were adjusted or fixed would cease to hinder us. The truth is that the flaws are in us, and until they are fixed, we will continue to fail in everything we undertake. We have met the enemy…..but still refuse to acknowledge who it is. A little matter of denial will seal our doom.

    • Virginia
      June 15, 2017 at 05:03

      Mike, you are right. We should keep that in mind all the more when it’s so tempting to believe that the immorality and commotion coming at us is from outside ourselves, unrelated to our own expectations and consent. Thanks for the reminder. Keep them coming, because it can be hard during times like these. These are the worst of times and the best of times.

      • Virginia
        June 15, 2017 at 05:14

        To provide this timely quote of Charles Dickens:
        “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
        A Tale of Two Cities
        by C.D. English novelist (1812 – 1870)

        • mike k
          June 15, 2017 at 07:30

          Thanks Virginia. A very timely observation by Mr. Dickens. Our poets and artists are often so prescient. The irony of being on the verge of great advances and near final extinction at the same time is a feature of hubris, the aggressive pursuit of ultimate power. The US quest for “full spectrum dominance” epitomizes this fatal quest. Capitalism enshrines it as the highest meaning of human life. The story of Faust warns us of this insane desire, and how we bargain away our Souls to pursue it.

    • Brad Owen
      June 15, 2017 at 07:05

      The fault lays our “teachers” who have had our ear since we were children, who have planted some particular darknesses in our hearts and minds. To think we have not been actively assaulted with ideologies and propaganda is to be naive. For example, I remember the “God is Dead” meme persisting, like a fart in stale air, when I was a young teenager. The idea was everywhere, all around, and it just wasn’t “cool” to not believe it. My good fortune, however, was to be a loner and a contrarian: perhaps God is not dead, perhaps there is more to life than atoms and molecules bumping into each other as the cause of everything, perhaps flying saucers are real, perhaps Big Foot does exist, perhaps the myth of Atlantis really did happen, perhaps the Gods and Goddesses and the Faery race do exist, etc… The fault lays precisely in the activities of the Cultural Congress of Freedom (CCF) which can be read about, on EIR website’s search box. They have been slowly preparing our hearts and minds to some end that is wicked. We’ve been played, Mike, and to indict the victim is also part of that play, so as to never start a search for the perp.

      • Brad Owen
        June 15, 2017 at 07:07

        There really is a hissing, whispering, serpent in the garden, Mike.

        • mike k
          June 15, 2017 at 07:50

          And unfortunately Brad, we chose to internalize the essence of that serpent by eating the dangerous fruit he recommended, in spite of having been warned of the consequences by our higher self. Reminds me of taking my first hit of heroin. But as you say, our culture tempts us to many fatal paths, and recovery from it’s false teachings can take considerable time, and needs help from those who have achieved a higher degree of understanding and personal liberation.

          The problem for all us culture addicts is that we are deep in denial of our problem, and even if we do have the good fortune to awaken a little, and take the first tentative step towards healing our deluded minds, it is a lengthy and difficult process, and the world is not giving us the time needed for it. So although there is an answer to our fatal problems, it looks like we will not be able to avail ourselves of it.

          • Virginia
            June 15, 2017 at 11:17

            Perhaps today we’re given the choice between good and evil, blessing and cursing, life and death. Perhaps time is not a factor, but choosing Life –today — we would find it invariably good, with no shadow of turning. Time! only a part of the delusion!

            It’s been said, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” Then what a golden one we have!

  35. mike k
    June 14, 2017 at 21:54

    The whole idea of trying to restrain the deeply crooked folks who are drawn to seek political positions is hopelessly ineffective. These people lie, cheat, and steal as a matter of course. And they and their lawyers are highly skilled a flaunting the laws. This issue just serves to make clear that the real problems in our world arise from what is in the hearts and minds of our citizens. A culture lacking in real morality cannot enjoy a legitimate form of government. The fault is not in the stars or the laws, but in ourselves.

  36. Mild-ly Facetious
    June 14, 2017 at 21:47

    Meanwhile, Senator Kamila Harris chumps Bigoted Liar Sessions… .

    “It’ll All Come Out In The Wash” … .

  37. mike k
    June 14, 2017 at 21:42

    Bribery is the life blood of politics. And love will find a way – to get the cash delivered. Laws will never be an obstacle to determined manipulators of the laws. Honesty is the only answer to political chicanery, but Diogenes is still looking for an honest man……

    • tina
      June 14, 2017 at 23:54

      Diogenes will never has his answer… meanwhile,, in our own country, does anyone see the irony with all the gun people? I should be as cruel and vicious as Alex Jones, and just simply proclaim ,”What happened this morning, a shooter, did not happen. People, where are the bodies? This is an all out assault to control our guns, and take them from us. This assault never happened. Folks, believe me, the Dark State is taking over, and they want our guns.” By the way, Mr. injured Representative Scalise got so much money from the NRA, he got an A+ rating. I do not feel one bit sorry at all, you want a country filled with guns, this is the result. And by the way, I am not a gun owner.

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