Constitutional disregard: Trump's emoluments lawsuits move forward


When you have absolutely no ethical boundaries:

Trump opened the Trump International Hotel, just blocks from the White House, shortly before he was elected in November 2016. Unlike past presidents, he has retained ownership of numerous business interests, including the hotel, while serving as president.

Since his election, the hotel has become a favored lodging and event space for some foreign and state officials visiting the U.S. capital. The lawsuit alleges that, in failing to disengage from the hotel, Trump has made himself vulnerable to inducements by foreign governments seeking to curry favor, violating the Constitution.

Even the lowliest bureaucrat in the Federal government ranks has to be wary of receiving gifts from individuals, lest they be raked over the coals for an ethical misstep. But Trump? He won't give you the time of day unless there's something in it for him. We all remember his declarations in 2016/2017 that he would sever himself from the family businesses, but he's done the exact opposite. Like doubling the annual membership fee at Mar-A-Lago to over $200,000 right after he was elected, then turning it into a shadow Camp David. But the particular case we're looking at today deals with Trump's DC hotel, and a look at the initial subpoenas is an eye-opener:

The subpoenas seek details on some of the most closely held secrets of Trump’s presidency: Which foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization money? How much? And for what?

All of the documents — among them marketing materials targeted to foreign embassies, credit card receipts and restaurant reservation logs — relate to Trump’s D.C. hotel, which is at the center of the case because of events foreign governments have held there and the federal lease that allows the business to operate.

Also receiving subpoenas are a number of federal agencies that may have some information about Trump’s hotel, which operates in the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue downtown.

At the top of the list is the General Services Administration, which leases the property to Trump’s company. In the subpoena to the agency, the attorneys general ask for documents related to the hotel’s lease as well as financial records.

Other agencies receiving subpoenas are the Commerce Department, the Defense Department and the Agriculture Department, all of which have reportedly spent money at the hotel, and the Treasury Department, to which the Trump Organization donated profits from foreign governments earlier this year.

Bolding mine, and sorry for the redundancy. But damn. I had forgotten Trump's Hotel was actually on government property. Which raises a whole slew of questions that should have been trumpeted by Libertarians, not the least of which is government competing with the private sector. Remember our dust-up here in NC over municipal broadband? Right. IOKIYAR.

Just to give you an idea of how arrogant Trump's DOJ attorneys are who are fighting this case (because apparently they're his personal lawyers now), here are some excerpts of their argument to have it dismissed:

The President has absolute immunity. The doctrine of absolute immunity requires dismissal of this action against the President in his individual capacity. Absolute immunity shields a government official from individual-capacity litigation. See Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 418-19 (1976); Lewisv. Clarke, 137 S. Ct. 1285, 1291 (2017); e.g., Cady v. Arenac Cty., 574 F.3d 334, 342 (6th Cir. 2009). “The purpose of conferring absolute immunity is to protect officials not only from ultimate liability but also from all the time-consuming, distracting, and unpleasant aspects of a lawsuit, including discovery.” District of Columbia v. Jones, 919 A.2d 604, 611 (D.C. 2007). It follows, then, that “absolute immunity defeats a suit at the outset, so long as the official’s actions were within the scope of the immunity.” Imbler, 424 U.S. at 419 n.13. That is the only way “to spare the official the tribulation and expense of defending the suit at all.”

The Supreme Court has broadly applied absolute immunity to foreclose civil suits against the President in his individual capacity for official actions taken while in office. See Nixon, 457 U.S. at748-56 . As the Court has explained, the reasons underlying absolute immunity apply with special force to the President.Id. The President is the quintessential official “whose special functions or constitutional status requires complete protection from suit.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 807 (1982). Absolute immunity ensures that hecan focus on carrying out the obligations of his Office without the distraction of virtually limitless litigation whose risks he would personally bear. Nixon, 457 U.S. at 751-53

Apparently abiding by the Constitution is now a "distraction." This case was dismissed a few months ago, but another set of judges just blew life back into it. Fingers crossed.