Trump must end conflicts
Soon after the United States first opened for business, an array of European monarchies predicted the new and novel republic’s rapid demise and worked diligently to achieve it. That’s why the Founders included Article I, Section 9 in the Constitution. The Emoluments Clause precludes any officeholder from accepting anything from anyone without the specific consent of Congress.
Attempts to influence the government are as great or greater today than they were in 1789. Yet President-elect Donald J. Trump has declined to take sound steps that his predecessors have taken to avoid such conflicts.
Norman L. Eisen, who was ethics counsel for President George W. Bush; Richard W. Painter, who held the same post in the Obama administration; and Laurence H. Tribe, a renowned professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, have produced a paper detailing why Mr. Trump must follow his predecessors’ example.
Some of Mr. Trump’s impending conflicts are obvious. His Trump International Hotel in Washington operates under a lease with the General Services Administration. As president, he would be the landlord and the tenant.
At least 10 labor practice cases are pending against Trump interests at the National Labor Relations Board, where Mr. Trump likely would fill two vacancies.
The list goes on. But as the scholars note, the intent of the Emoluments Clause is to head off case-by-case parsing of conflicts. It means to prevent such conflicts rather than to resolve them after the fact.
Mr. Trump should agree to a blind trust to avoid a collision with the Constitution.