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Wed May 24, 2017, 03:22 PM

Charles P. Pierce: Emoluments Are Part of the Business Plan


Emoluments Are Part of the Business Plan
Let's check in with the Trump Organization.

By Charles P. Pierce
May 24, 2017

Once again, we have an example of how the biggest problem may not be that we are ruled by a cabal of grifters, but how shameless and bad they are at it. NBC News got ahold of a Trump Organization document concerning how the Organization is handling payments from various foreign entities. One way that it's handing these is by not handling them.

The Trump Organization does not "attempt to identify individual travelers who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity," according to a new company pamphlet. The policy suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump hotels, to determine whether they self-report their business. That policy matches what several sources told MSNBC Trump Organization employees are not soliciting information about whether reservations or business is from a foreign government. The U.S. Constitution bars foreign gifts to the president. In January, Trump pledged to track and donate all profits at his companies from foreign government travel and commerce.

And then the sun set, and rose again, and therefore that pledge was worthless. This is also part of the general Trump business plan.

{The document} was provided by Trump's chief compliance counsel to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. "Under the policy outlined in this pamphlet, foreign governments could provide prohibited emoluments to President Trump, for example through organizations such as RT, the propaganda arm of the Russian government," Cummings said in a new letter. "Those payments would not be tracked in any way and would be hidden from the American public," Cummings added. He is pressing the Trump Organization to brief Congress on the matter by June 2. A lawyer involved in the emoluments case against Trump who asked not to be identified said the company's approach violates the Constitution's ban on the president receiving foreign gifts.

At first, I thought complaints about the president* and the emoluments clause was too arcane a constitutional quibble to go anywhere. But if it's part of a general business plan, a business plan that has been imported wholesale into how this bunch presumes to run the government, then that's a whole 'nother thing. Looked at, whole and complete, the entire operation now looks like a coherent and lawless enterprise. And the people running it are either too arrogant or too oblivious to even be cute about it.

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