Subpoenas issued in Trump emoluments case


Having to deal with that pesky Constitution again:

The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia on Tuesday formally demanded financial records from U.S. President Donald Trump's businesses as part of their lawsuit alleging his dealings with foreign governments violate anti-corruption clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The attorneys general issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization Inc, the president's privately owned real estate company, and related corporate entities.

The U.S. Department of Justice, which is defending the president in the litigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

That last sentence reflects just how damaged our Republic has become under this twisted President. The United States Department of Justice should be the one investigating and bringing the charges against Trump, not being his personal defense team. It boggles the mind. Shortly after Trump was elected, Brookings looked into the issue:

Foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our nation and the Framers of our Constitution. The United States was a new government, and one that was vulnerable to manipulation by the great and wealthy world powers (which then, as now, included Russia). One common tactic that foreign sovereigns, and their agents, used to influence our officials was to give them gifts, money, and other things of value. In response to this practice, and the self-evident threat it represents, the Framers included in the Constitution the Emoluments Clause of Article I, Section 9. It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “ any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Only explicit congressional consent validates such exchanges.

While much has changed since 1789, certain premises of politics and human nature have held steady. One of those truths is that private financial interests can subtly sway even the most virtuous leaders. As careful students of history, the Framers were painfully aware that entanglements between American officials and foreign powers could pose a creeping, insidious risk to the Republic. The Emoluments Clause was forged of their hard-won wisdom. It is no relic of a bygone era, but rather an expression of insight into the nature of the human condition and the prerequisites of self-governance.

In this respect, the Clause responded to an underlying colonial indictment of the English political system. Even as they celebrated the wisdom and invoked the teachings of England’s unwritten constitution, colonists decried the King’s success at subverting limits on his own power. As Professor Gordon Wood has observed, “Throughout the eighteenth century the Crown had slyly avoided the blunt and clumsy instrument of prerogative, and instead had resorted to influencing the electoral process and the representatives in Parliament in order to gain its treacherous ends.”

Having spent years scrupulously dissecting the King’s use of gifts, offices, and other inducements to manipulate Parliament, early Americans were obsessed with the many species of corruption and
figuring out how best to combat them. American observations of European politics—including its corrupt culture of gift-giving and back-scratching—only further accentuated their fear that foreign interests, deploying gifts and titles, would seek to cripple the new republic. In the 1790s, this was no hypothetical concern: foreign meddling could doom a young nation.

But we don't need scholars to tell us the what's and why's of the Emoluments Clause, because it is one of the least ambiguous parts of the Constitution. It's glaringly obvious the goal was to keep government officials from being influenced by foreign entities, and the need to prevent that has not been diluted by the passage of time.

Back to the OP, and the absurdity of the US DOJ trying to suppress evidence:

The development "brings us closer to judicially enforced discovery about the Trump empire," said Brown. "It will probably tell us a lot we don't know because nobody is going to hide that stuff in the face of a subpoena."

U.S. government lawyers said on Friday in a court filing that they plan to ask an appeals court to halt discovery and review earlier rulings by Messitte that allowed the case to proceed.

That's some crazy stuff, right there. But when you've got an acting Attorney General who was himself the subject of a DOJ fraud investigation, don't expect a huge surge of ethical behavior.