Senate Dems To Trump: Time To Drain Your Own Swamp (TWEETS)

Ben Cardin with Amal Clooney (image courtesy Cardin's Facebook)
Ben Cardin with Amal Clooney (image courtesy Cardin's Facebook)

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 48 hours for Donald Trump. He’s taking a well-deserved reaming for falsely claiming Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead was the product of massive fraud–including from his own party. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was exposed as a stone-cold racist. Now, the Senate Democrats have told Trump that he needs to drain his massive swamp of conflicts of interest–and soon.

On Monday, Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution calling for Trump to take the necessary steps to ensure that his myriad real estate and business interests do not fall afoul of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. That provision bars federal officials from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” without permission from Congress. He announced the resolution just before the close of business on Tuesday.

Cardin proposes that Trump convert his interests into “conflict-free holdings,” create blind trusts, or take “equivalent measures” to ensure that his foreign holdings don’t raise constitutional problems. Those holdings became a major issue a week after the election, when it emerged that he was encouraging diplomats to stay at his hotel a few blocks from the White House in return for access to him.

This development, as well as Trump’s numerous deals with foreign governments and state-owned businesses, it has led a number of experts to argue that Trump is at substantial risk for violating the Emoluments Clause from the minute he takes office–and that such a violation would be an impeachable offense. Indeed, some legal and constitutional scholars–both Democrats and Republicans–have gone as far as to argue that the Electoral College should not make Trump president unless he either signs any payments from foreign governments to the United States or set up a true blind trust for them.

Cardin’s resolution echoes those concerns. It advises Trump in no uncertain terms that Congress will consider any deals between Trump-owned companies and foreign governments as unconstitutional unless Trump either takes measures to ensure compliance or these deals are approved by Congress. In a statement issued on Tuesday when he formally announced his resolution, Cardin said that it was in line with the Founding Fathers’ intent to prevent undue foreign influence on our leaders.

“The Founding Fathers were clear in their belief that any federal office holder of the United States must never be put in a position where they can be monetarily or otherwise influenced by a foreign governmental actor. This resolution is intended to prevent a crisis or any misunderstanding regarding the consistency of the President’s actions with the U.S. Constitution. Unless he takes appropriate action, Mr. Trump’s many international financial interests pose a great risk of violating the Constitution once he assumes the Presidency of the United States.”

Cardin wasn’t just telling Trump to drain his own swamp. He was firing a shot across the Republicans’ bow as well. If Mitch McConnell and/or Paul Ryan leave this resolution to twist in the wind, they will be effectively telling the American people that they are perfectly fine with Trump using the presidency for personal gain. And if this resolution comes up for a vote, anyone who votes against it will be effectively telling their constituents, and the nation as a whole, that they have no problem with our leaders using their offices for personal gain.

We already know that Trump’s vow to drain the swamp is hot air. Remember, he was meeting with Indian business partners a week after the election, and had his daughter come in on a phone call with a foreign leader and sit in on a meeting with another. But Cardin’s announcement gives Trump no room to maneuver. Either he is serious about separating himself from his businesses, or he isn’t. And if he takes one penny from a foreign power after taking office, it should be grounds for impeachment and removal.

(featured image courtesy Cardin’s Facebook)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.