Federal Judge Allows Emoluments Suit Against Trump To Proceed In Historic Ruling

A Federal Judge in Maryland ruled last week that a lawsuit against the President based on a rather obscure provision of the Constitution could go forward.

In a decision handed down late last week, a Federal District Court Judge is allowing a case filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleging that President Trump is acting in violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause to go forward, opening up the possibility of significant discovery regarding the President’s private business activity:

WASHINGTON — A lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by maintaining a financial interest in his company’s Washington hotel cleared a critical hurdle on Wednesday when a federal judge allowed the case to move forward.

In the first judicial opinion to define how the meaning of the Constitution’s anticorruption clauses should apply to a president, Judge Peter J. Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Md., said the framers’ language should be broadly construed as an effort to protect against influence-peddling by state and foreign governments.

He ruled that the lawsuit should proceed to the evidence-gathering stage, which could clear the way for an examination of financial records that the president has consistently refused to disclose. The Justice Department is expected to forestall that by seeking an emergency stay and appealing the ruling.

The two constitutional clauses at issue restrict a president’s ability to accept financial benefits or “emoluments” from domestic or foreign governments, other than his official salary. No federal judge before has ever interpreted what those bans mean for the president.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, say that Mr. Trump is violating those bans by accepting profits from the Trump International Hotel, a five-star hotel just blocks from the White House that is frequented by foreign and state officials. The judge earlier ruled that the local jurisdictions had standing to sue because the Trump hotel arguably siphons off business from their convention centers or hotels.

Mr. Trump has resisted efforts to force him to provide more details about his personal finances, and in particular has refused to release his tax returns. Questions about Mr. Trump’s possible business dealings in Russia or with Russians have come up in connection with the inquiry being conducted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Before taking the oath of office, Mr. Trump resigned his role in his company, the Trump Organization, but retained his ownership and turned management over to his two oldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr.

The Justice Department had sought to dismiss the case, arguing that the constitutional restrictions do not apply to Mr. Trump’s interest in the hotel. But the judge said the department’s lawyers were defining an emolument far too narrowly.

“Sole or substantial ownership of a business that receives hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year in revenue from one of its hotel properties where foreign and domestic governments are known to stay (often with the express purpose of cultivating the president’s good graces) most definitely raises the potential for undue influence, and would be well within the contemplation of the clauses,” he wrote in a 52-page opinion.

(…)

Judge Messitte seemed especially struck by one example cited by the plaintiffs. He noted that when Paul LePage, the Republican governor of Maine, visited Washington to meet with Mr. Trump on official business in February 2017, he and his staff stayed at the Trump International Hotel.

At a subsequent news conference with the governor, the president announced that he was reviewing decisions related to national monuments and parks that were adopted the year before by the Obama administration and opposed by the governor. The governor’s spokeswoman has said that Mr. LePage did not choose the Trump hotel in an attempt to please the president.

The Attorneys General of Maryland and the District of Columbia, as well as Norm Eisen of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have an Op-Ed in today’s New York Times:

Whether or not the president has actually been corrupted in such a way, his actions in violation of the clauses have raised widespread concern and the perception at home and abroad that he can be bought. This is why our jurisdictions came to the conclusion that the only avenue for protecting our citizens was to bring this lawsuit — to, as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 73, protect the country from a president whose business entanglements might allow foreign actors to “tempt him by largesses, to surrender at [his] discretion his judgment to their inclinations.”

This ruling represents a major leap forward in understanding how Mr. Trump and his family are profiting off the presidency. The court has already ordered the preservation of Mr. Trump’s business records. We plan to examine them expeditiously and carefully when our lawsuit enters the discovery phase to uncover the extent of Mr. Trump’s violations through his Washington, D.C., hotel, where an endless retinue of foreign and domestic governments have spent lavish amounts of money since the election, all to the president’s financial benefit. (Though his family members and longtime associates run the Trump Organization businesses, he retains ownership.)

Wednesday’s ruling was not the last in this case, but the decision has instant ramifications far beyond the District of Columbia and Maryland. By ruling that the term “emoluments” means, and that the founders intended it to mean, profit, gain or advantage, we know that other instances of profit, gain or advantage that Mr. Trump receives from foreign or domestic governments, even if not the subject of this lawsuit, violate the Constitution. Other plaintiffs may be able to challenge them. Mr. Trump apparently agrees that other government officials should not “monetize their public service” — which is why he is threatening to revoke the security clearances of some of his critics. We should apply the same standard to him.

By rejecting the president’s argument that the Emoluments Clauses merely prohibit the outright bribing of federal officials, Judge Messitte recognized that the framers of our Constitution created a powerful safeguard against corruption that was “intended to embrace and ban anything more than de minimis profit, gain or advantage offered to a public official in his private capacity as well, wholly apart from his official salary.” We intend to follow this constitutional path and bring to light the president’s commercial entanglements that have remained hidden for too long. It is our constitutional duty to protect our citizens from the harms Mr. Trump is causing by his violations of the Constitution — and to help safeguard our country from undue influence, foreign and domestic.

The claims being made against Trump are based on two provisions of the Constitution that, until this ruling, have never been litigated before or ruled upon by a Judge at any level of the Federal Judiciary or in any of the states in the 229 years since the Constitution was ratified.The first provision, which has been called the “Foreign Emoluments Clause” is found in Article I, Section Nine, Clause 8 of the Constitution and prohibits any Federal official from receiving without Congressional consent “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.” The second clause, which has been called the “Domestic Emoluments Clause” can be found in Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 and states that the President “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States or any of them.” Generally speaking, an “emolument” is defined as ” the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.” ‘

There is no record that these clauses of the Constitution have been raised or litigated with respect to any President since George Washington first took the Oath of Office in 1789 and no record of any legal proceeding in which a court of record has ruled on the application of these clauses in any specific case. Despite this fact, there is a long history of Presidents of the United States receiving gifts, including gifts that potentially have significant value, from foreign leaders and foreign nations. Typically, these gifts are given as part of official visits by foreign heads of government or heads of state to the United States, or official visits of the President to foreign nations during his time in office. Under a strict reading of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, these gifts would appear to be barred, but rather than being prosecuted for accepting them previous Presidents have been permitted to receive them as long as they are properly reported by the White House. At the very least, though, this history raises legitimate questions about what the clauses mean and whether they are being violated in this case. Because of all that, the Judge’s ruling is groundbreaking, and it could lead to some serious headaches for the President going forward.

This ruling is based almost entirely on the question of what constitutes an “emolument” under either of the clauses and since there is no court guidance on the issue the ruling that Judge Missette made here today is likely to be influential in future court cases dealing with the same issue. The Plaintiffs argued in their pleadings that given the fact that the President profits each time any domestic or foreign officials spend time and money at a Trump property, they are providing a benefit to the President that is banned by these clauses. The President’s lawyers, on the other hand, argued for a much narrower reading of the clauses that defined forbidden emoluments as something that the President received that was directly related to, or in exchange for, some action that he took as part of his official duties. In the end, Judge Messitte adopted the broader reading of the clauses advocated by the Plaintiffs and, once he did that, the result in the case was rather inevitable. Before he got to that point, though, Messette did as good as job as he could to look to the history behind the clauses to make a case for why this broader reading is the correct one, and it’s honestly quite a persuasive argument. Whether the appellate courts agree with him remains to be seen, of course, but for the time being this will be the opinion that will guide other courts dealing with similar legal issues.

This ruling is just the latest development in a series of cases raising claims under the Emoluments Clauses that have been filed against the President since he took office. Previously in this same case, Judge Messitte rejected a motion filed by the Justice Department arguing that Maryland and the District of Columbia lacked standing to bring the claim against Trump. In addition to this lawsuit, there is a separate lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. that was filed by a group of more than 200 Democratic Congressmen and Senators. There haven’t been any significant developments in that case, but one presumes that it is at the Motion to Dismiss stage much as this case was prior to this ruling and that we can expect a ruling out of the court at any time. Additionally, there was a case that had been filed in New York by a public interest group and a group of businessmen who claimed that they were harmed by the fact that Trump’s properties were continuing to operate under his name even after he became President. In that case, though, the Judge dismissed the case on the ground that the Plaintiff’s had failed to establish that were being harmed by the alleged violations of the Emoluments Clauses in a way that would give them legal standing to sue the President.

Trump’s attorneys will no doubt seek to appeal this ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals but unless that court says otherwise, what this ruling means is that the case can now move forward toward what would eventually be a ruling on the merits, and the fact that Judge Missette has ruled for the Plaintiffs here bodes well for their success at that phase of the proceedings. In the short term, this means that the Plaintiffs will be permitted to conduct discovery regarding the issues in the case, specifically including questions, document requests, and depositions regarding the revenues and business operations of Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel. Potentially, this could also include significant discovery related to the President’s personal finances and records pertaining to the question of how involved he may still be in the daily operations of The Trump Organization and its numerous and various subsidiaries. Ordinarily, this information obtained in discovery is not made publicly available and it’s possible that Trump’s attorneys, as well as the attorneys for the Federal Government, could ask the Judge to rule that the material obtained in discovery must remain confidential unless it ends up being used in the trial. With or without such an order, though, it’s probable that at least some of this information could become public in any case. In any case, this ruling just adds to the legal headaches for the President.

Here’s Judge Missette’s opinion:

District of Columbia Et Al v. Trump Opinion by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, U.S. Constitution, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    Wikipedia:

    On August 6, 1993, Messitte was nominated by President Bill Clinton

    This is my shocked face.

    23
  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions both appointed by Donald Trump. And you love them, right?

    22
  3. Kathy says:

    Current legal theory on the right is that Trump cannot be held accountable for his actions in any way.

    Government without accountability is called dictatorship.

    22
  4. Pete S says:

    @Eric Florack:

    What does that have to do with anything? Oh, now I remember, projection. You cannot imagine a Republican president appointing a judge who is not a partisan hack so you assume the same of Democratic presidents too.

    For what its worth I think you are selling the Republican presidents short too. I may disagree with their nominations but it doesn’t mean that I believe all of those Republican-nominated judges are unqualified partisan hacks. Obviously you do, if you think all that matters about a ruling is who nominated the judge.

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  5. @Kathy:

    It is unclear what remedy there would be for a violation of the Emoluments Clauses. The Constitution itself does not provide for one, and there is no provision in the United States Code that I am aware of that addresses the issue.

  6. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Could violation be viewed as a “political” offense? Do you suppose that is what founders had in mind with the reference to “misdemeanors” as in “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

    After all, impeachment is a political process.

  7. al Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Wikipedia:
    On August 6, 1993, Messitte was nominated by President Bill Clinton
    This is my shocked face.

    So, you’re saying that the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution has no meaning?
    This is my predictably not-so-shocked face.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Doug, from The Gifts of the Presidents

    As the gifts that U.S. presidents received started to become more extravagant, a rule was enacted to ensure there was no impression of impropriety. The Foreign Gifts and Declarations Act of 1966 was prompted in part by the expensive gifts some Arab kings would bring on their visits, like luxury cars and fine horses, according to Hand. In political culture, “perception becomes reality,” says Hand, and it did not look good to have the president accept something that flashy from a foreign leader. The rule put a limit to the value of a gift a president could accept, with most gifts going directly to the National Archives after being presented. As of January 2014, the limit is currently set at $375.

    Not sure if the $ limit is still $375.

    ETA in response to this statement:
    Despite this fact, there is a long history of Presidents of the United States receiving gifts, including gifts that potentially have significant value, from foreign leaders and foreign nations.

  9. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m talking in general terms. Certainly if a president, or in this case Trump, is knowingly receiving money from foreign and domestic interests, the amounts and provenance of such money should be disclosed to the public.

    BTW, Giuliani is going around proclaiming collusion is not a crime. This suggests to me evidence of collusion is about to break.

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  10. @Bob@Youngstown:

    Well yes that’s what it would come down to. This is true both of any Emoluments Clause violations and anything related to the Russia investigation. Presidents cannot be indicted while in office, but must first be impeached and removed from office.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    I get closer to Bingo! I said that in the end they’d advocate for treason.

    The evidence of collusion (conspiracy, actually) is already out there, helpfully supplied by Michael Cohen and, unaccountably, enhanced by Rudy Giuliani who apparently just snorts coke and free-associates.

    Trump’s latest Tweets are especially frantic. He’ll be fear-shitting soon.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    From WAPO’s coverage of the Menendez case,

    Mintz (a Federal Prosecutor) noted that a recent Supreme Court decision had curtailed the reach of some corruption laws, requiring prosecutors to show a direct quid pro quo between gifts accepted by a public official and official acts. Mintz said a key weakness in the Menendez prosecution case was the lack of direct evidence, like a wiretap or a cooperator, to show the intent of the defendants.

    IANAL but it seems courts used to take even the appearance of corruption much more seriously. Will this affect the emoluments cases?

    any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State

    On its face, this doesn’t seem to leave much room for Trump’s lawyers interpretation.

    And I trust someone will ask Kavanaugh (without expectation of an answer, or at least an honest answer) what an “emolument” is.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It may be just a brick in the wall, but if the court rules Trump has violated a provision of the Constitution, it gets that little bit harder for Ryan, McConnell, and Company to look the other way. And the supposedly liberal MSM.

    When Hillary mentioned collusion, the press treated it as just politics, just Hillary being shrill. If the Dems bring it up again, it’s harder to ignore if there’s a ruling on the table.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I said that in the end they’d advocate for treason.

    No doubt the Cheeto camp will. The big question is: how big a portion of the GOP will go along?

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Trump and his accomplices always cop to the last unavoidable fact that came out, while denying anything further. Rinse and repeat. And they then move the goalpost past there. Yes, they’ll get to, ‘Treason in defense of Trumpism is no vice.’ Like political craziness, there seems to be no rightward bound to goal post moving.

  16. Scott F. says:

    He ruled that the lawsuit should proceed to the evidence-gathering stage, which could clear the way for an examination of financial records that the president has consistently refused to disclose.

    Regardless of any clear remedy for violation of the Emoluments Clauses, the value of the provisions lie in the above. Transparency can be legally compelled.

    For Trump, disclosure of his financials will be like sunlight on a vampire. This could explain the panic so clear in his recent behavior.

  17. Kathy says:

    @gVOR08:

    At some point some in the GOP have to stop dragging the goal posts. Unless they are all Putin Republicans.

    Prior to 2016, I’d have said no politician of any party would have entertained a defense of a president, or a Trump in this case, doing damage to the US in furtherance of the interests of another country. Now …

    BTW, collusion is a crime. It’s just called conspiracy in legal terms.

  18. Tyrell says:

    @al Ameda: Increasingly the “balance of power” has no meaning as the bureaucracy and the federal courts hold the power over the regular people. The bureaucrats and federal judges are not elected and are not accountable. But there is a move to restore Constitutional government and give some powers back to the States. It is called the Constitution of States. A true reform movement. For years we have watched reform ideas fail: balanced budget amendment, term limits, and others. These have failed because the politicians and bureaucrats resist any reform proposals that would reduce their power and money.
    Ask your representatives about the Federal Reserve audit bill.

    14
  19. Scott F. says:

    @Kathy:

    At some point some in the GOP have to stop dragging the goal posts. Unless they are all Putin Republicans.

    I’d like to believe this is true, but we’ve seen no evidence to date that this is happening. Short timers like Flake and Corker shouldn’t count as “some in the GOP” in this context and no one other Republicans have shown the courage to risk the wrath of Trump’s supporters.

    To my mind, this is why the financial disclosures that appear imminent in both this Emoluments case and the Mueller investigation are so threatening to Trump. If Trump’s God of Business image is meaningfully dispelled for a significant number of his followers, then Trump’s support weakens and then maybe, just maybe, some Republicans will be able to find their spines.

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    Republicans will be good little treason enablers until polls take a sharp dive. Nothing else will convince them. They don’t give a litter-crusted cat turd for this country, they care about themselves, only themselves, that is core Republicanism: me me me, mine mine mine, fck everyone who isn’t me or me-adjacent. . Patriotism is just another slogan to these people, another lie to tell the rubes and get their votes. If it meant getting re-elected they’d take a Zippo to the constitution while giving Putin a handie.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    Jeebuz.

    Rudy Giuliani just obliterated the goal posts on Trump-Russia collusion – WAPO. The story quotes a tweet quoting Giuliani, “I don’t even know if that’s a crime — colluding with Russians. Hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack! He didn’t pay for the hacking.” Like ‘Trump didn’t make a phone call’ last week, where did ‘Trump didn’t pay for the hacking’ come from? What call? Who did pay?

    IIRC the Steele Dossier said Cohen went to Prague to pay hackers. Cohen, and maybe the money guy, are about to sing. Fasten your seat belts. The spit may be about to hit the fan.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    Our local Trumpaloons will be along in the next hours and days to argue that treason is fine. Count on it. It was the inevitable result of surrendering their wills to Cult Leader. They can’t do anything else, they have no independent judgment, no independent will, no moral or ethical restrictions. Once you surrender to the Cult you can’t stop yourself from donning the purple jump suits and swallowing the Kool-Aid.

    Trump will never go much lower than mid-30’s in polls – he’ll shed the ‘let’s try something new’ voters, but he’ll keep 1/3 because that is just about the proportion of racists, woman-haters, senile Boomers, lunatics, incels, gun-fetishists, and untreated mentally ill people we have in this country. These people have found a home in the cult, they won’t leave, we just have to wait for them to die off.

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    Mods? Queue rescue please?

  24. Facebones says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I said that in the end they’d advocate for treason.

    “We HAD to give the Russians our nuclear codes in exchange for dirt on Hillary! We couldn’t let her become president!”

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott F.: “…some Republicans will be able to find their spines.”

    While I agree that it’s good to have something to hope for, remember that every serious candidate in the GOP primary except for Jeb ran as Trump 2.0.

    Every. Single. One.

    Their spines are right where they’ve always been.

  26. KM says:

    @Tyrell :

    It is called the Constitution of States. A true reform movement.

    First of all: it’s CONVENTION of States. Troll harder.

    Second of all: Go ahead – do it. Once you call for that, EVERYTHING is on the table rights-wise not just what you want. Man, is the right going to be shocked when they see how the popular opinions of this country aren’t going to turn out the way they think. The 2A can get written to include sane restrictions, abortion and SSM can be enshrined in the main document that is our law. The electoral college can go to one-person, one-vote direct representation, the requirements for running for office are up for grabs, impeachment gets a whole lot easier, etc.

    There’s a damn reason nobody’s seriously called for this in the entire history of our country and that’s because EVERYONE has more to lose then gain by it. There’s this wonderful delusion y’all have that the rights you like will be kept the same or enhanced and the only changes will benefit you. Sure, everyone’s a fan of free speech…. but what does that *mean* when you’re given the chance to rewrite the definition? This is magical thinking at its finest and you are going to get *rolled* if you try it.

    19
  27. Kylopod says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Our local Trumpaloons will be along in the next hours and days to argue that treason is fine. Count on it.

    I would qualify that slightly. I’d be totally unsurprised if they defended activity that amounts to treason, but they’ll never admit to calling it “treason.” They’re not ceding ground on that word, any more than “patriotism.” It reminds me of the time I got in an argument online with a birther (the first I ever encountered–this was all the way back in mid-2008), and he accused me at one point of promoting a “conspiracy theory.” They can’t let go of certain words and phrases, they’ve just redefined them to the point of absurdity.

    “Collusion” is different, because it’s not some old, traditional term with a long history in politics, but a relatively esoteric one that many of them may never have even heard of before the Trump era. Trump screams “No collusion!” not because he knows what the word means but because he knows it’s something bad he’s been accused of, he knows he and his team have done stuff in connection with Russia that could get them in trouble, and his reflexive habit is to pull an “I know you are but what am I?” in reaction to every charge against him. (As I’ve said before, a reporter could probably troll Trump by applying to him some fancy word he doesn’t realize is actually a compliment, just to provoke him into denying the charges: “Breaking News: Trump has tremendous éclat.” “No eclat! You’re the eclat!”) I agree that Trump’s supporters don’t care what he did, no matter how criminal or traitorous. They’ll defend any crime–they’ll just stop short of calling it a “crime.” As long as they cling to the terminology they favor, that’s all the justification they need.

  28. KM says:

    @Kylopod:

    “Collusion” is different, because it’s not some old, traditional term with a long history in politics, but a relatively esoteric one that many of them may never have even heard of before the Trump era.

    They may not have heard the term but everyone’s familiar with the concept. Maybe they know it as “conspiracy” or “lay down with dogs, get fleas”. It’s why you don’t do favors for the mob or get into shady businesses because you don’t want your name anywhere near the fan when it hits. Anyone acting like they don’t know what “collusion” is being deliberately ignorant – ask them if they’re OK with their kids hanging out with MS-13 and helping them out with harmless “stuff” even if it’s not “a crime”. They know damn well why it’s a bad idea even if their vocabulary to describe it is lacking.

  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kylopod: @KM:
    From the start we’ve been using words a bit lazily. Collusion is actually conspiracy, and the legal definition of treason doesn’t apply because, as everyone points out, we are not at war with Russia. (Of course we weren’t at war with the USSR when we fried the Rosenbergs, and Pollard went to prison despite having spied for an ally.)

    But for daily use we’re stuck with collusion until Mueller and the Southern District lay out the formal charges. The word ‘treason’ works in every way but as a legal definition, but I’m just as happy to see Trump arrested on other charges two minutes after he leaves the WH.

  30. gVOR08 says:

    Giuliani is right that “collusion” is not a crime. But conspiracy against the United States is. There are campaign laws. There are money laundering and Foreign Corrupt Practices laws. There seem to be a wide variety of fraud statutes. There’s the Emoluments Clause (which as far as I am aware has no statutes associated with it, except the WH gifts stuff). There are regulations applying to agents of foreign governments. Selling out the country in time of peace, per previous discussions, is not legally treason. Perjury and lying to the FBI and congressional committees may apply.

    Assuming the worst here, the campaign knew about Russian hackers and paid them, what would the charge be. IIRC you can’t contract foreign nationals to work for a campaign. But hopefully something stronger would apply.

    And if the campaign or the Mercers provided voter data to Russian social media trolls?

    Being blackmailed by Putin, as far as I know, is not a crime. But it sure seems like it would require impeachment.

    IANAL. If the lawyers here are interested, I would sure enjoy a discussion of what Trump’s associates might be charged with. And Trump himself, should Mueller feel an indictment might be worth shot. I have a fear we are going to end up with a catalog of financial and campaign irregularities and perjury along with a list of questionable acts that aren’t strictly illegal. It may dribble out for years without a clear smoking gun.

  31. JohnMcC says:

    @KM: Ma’am, did you somehow imagine that provisions in a new Constitution adopted by that Constitutional Convention would actually ask the American people at large how they’d like their national gov’t to be modified. Give it some thought.

    (PS) the ‘preview’ seems broken still

    (edit) that 1st sentence is proof that someone (can’t say who) needs a ‘preview’ sometimes to keep the inner pedant happy

  32. JohnMcC says:

    IANAL but…I can use the dictionary hidden in the google:

    col*lu*sion – secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy

    Seems like a perfectly useable word to use in this circumstance. Am I missing something?

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Of course we weren’t at war with the USSR when we fried the Rosenbergs,

    Tangential trivia that I learned Because of Trump: despite what I always “knew” the Rosenberg’s were not charged with treason precisely because of this ambiguity. Instead they were convicted of espionage.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: The problem is what will happen when people who “weren’t invited” starting running for–and getting elected to–positions on their state’s CoS commission. The other part of the problem is that not all of the people who think the nation could use a new document “lean right,” but the CoS originators seem to believe everyone does.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC: No, it’s just that collusion is difficult to convict people of–because of all the secrecy and such. If I were Trump, I’d be worried about the Chinese proverb:

    Three people can keep a secret as long as two are dead.

  36. An Interested Party says:

    The Constitution itself does not provide for one, and there is no provision in the United States Code that I am aware of that addresses the issue.

    Time to set a precedent…if a president so brazenly uses his position to enrich himself so grossly, he needs to be held accountable for that…

  37. Paul L. says:

    Bet this court case upsets progressives that the police can not their authority against Trumpkins.
    Injured Trump Supporters’ Lawsuit Against San Jose Can Proceed, Says Ninth Circuit
    “The Attendees allege the Officers shepherded them into a violent crowd of protesters and actively prevented them from reaching safety. The Officers continued to implement this plan even while witnessing the violence firsthand, and even though they knew the mob had attacked Trump supporters at the Convention Center earlier that evening.”

  38. Kathy says:

    @Scott F.:

    I’d like to believe this is true, but we’ve seen no evidence to date that this is happening.

    The matter involves conspiring with a foreign government to defraud the United States, and it includes a criminal act, hacking the DNC servers, by a foreign government on US soil. At some point the GOP and trump’s apologists must choose whether to denounce Trump or become accomplices to the crime.

    Morally, they should have turned on Trump when he refused to even admit the Russians meddled in the election, and certainly after his display of submission to Putin in Helsinki.

    Practically, they won’t until Trump becomes toxic at the polls. And I think I’ve said before that won’t happen while the economy is good.

    One alternative, though it won’t be enough, is if the democrats take the House and the Senate. If that happens, then the GOP won’t turn on Trump enough to remove him from office, but at least to the point to tell him to behave and shut the f***k up.

    Taking the House seems likely. The Senate is not likely at all.

    Damn.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Paul L.: Nice picture. Is that you in your Scarlet Pimpernel cosplay outfit?

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: “…they won’t until Trump becomes toxic at the polls.”

    I’m not sure even that will promote the change you’re looking for. You’re not old enough to remember Watergate in real time, I suspect. Many conservative Nixon supporters stayed with him. I should know–I still think the break-in was a nothing burger.

    Lot’s of people did leave the GOP at that time, though. Their departure set the stage for the Reagan Revolution in many ways, but the true faithful were unfazed by it all and stayed with the program.

  41. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    You’re not old enough to remember Watergate in real time, I suspect.

    Thank you 🙂

    Lot’s of people did leave the GOP at that time, though. Their departure set the stage for the Reagan Revolution in many ways, but the true faithful were unfazed by it all and stayed with the program.

    I don’t expect large numbers of people to desert the GOP, but to desert Trump. If he’s hurting their electoral chances, then he’s no longer any good. if they lose the Senate, they won’t even have the kind of judges they say they want.

    The faithful never leave, no matter what. They also are not the majority, at least not usually. I’m sure you’ll find Russians, and for that matter Lithuanians, who miss totalitarian communism and think things were better then.

  42. JohnMcC says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: If I may butt in…

    I can easily imagine a displaced Trump (by impeachment or electoral loss) barnstorming the country raising hell among his 30% about ‘their’ disenfranchisement and generally creating political chaos and — who knows? — some rioting. I’m not quite old enough to remember Sen Joe McCarthy’s tour but it was a well-remembered event when I began to become politically aware. Folks at the time thought it was pretty darn scary. Tailgunner Joe was an out of control alcoholic and died soon after his disgrace. We might not be so lucky in the 21st century.

    I think we’re seeing some early stage of a major realignment of political parties and highly recommend Ezra Klein’s recent ‘Browning of America’ article at Vox.