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Fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on us

America you’ve be duped, again

Three things you might not know

  1.  Richard M. Nixon said, “When the President does it that means it is not illegal.”
  2. Donald Trump will be in violation of the Constitution on the day he is sworn in.
  3. Regardless of Trump’s efforts to dodge the conflict of interest issue, he can’t dodge the US Constitution. Unless the representatives of the American people let him – then it’s “shame on America.”

(5 minute read, excluding ABC video of 4:53)

The ghost of narcissism past

A history lesson in 04 seconds and a harbinger of the future.

Nixon’s statement is perhaps the most frightening declaration of narcissistic, pretention since Mussolini said, “We do not argue with those who disagree with us, we destroy them.[1] Or as Trump has said, “My motto is: Always get even … I love getting even when I get screwed by someone – yes, it’s true … always get even. You need to screw them back fifteen times harder.”[2]

We have met the enemy, and he is us – Pogo

America has “met the enemy and he is us” … well, one of us, the President-elect.

Donald J. Trump, as the 45the President of the United States, will render a “screwing” on America that will make Richard Nixon look like a a choir boy. We can already see the groundwork for our date with destiny being laid as a bevy of lawyers prepare the flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). In fact, this week they had to delay presenting the ersatz prescription, apparently they’re having trouble concocting it. It’s tough creating fantasy because, in this case, it has to sound real and be complex enough to disarm the people. It’s like feeding cod liver oil to unsuspecting kids while making sure they don’t choke on it. It’s particularly difficult because there is no real prescription. You can’t unprescribe or rewrite the US Constitution.

“He will be in violation of the Constitution from day one.”Norman Eisen, Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform in the White House (2009-2011).

Emoluments Clause: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8

This clause is from the founding fathers and it was established in 1787 at the United States Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia for the purpose of preventing corrupt practices and “to shield the republican character of the United States against corrupting foreign influences.”[3]

Today, in 2016, with the emergence of Trump, the 229 year old question is: Will the “republican character” of America stand strong and disallow the legal gobbledygook about to be spewed by Trump lawyers or will “we the people” abdicate the Constitution and allow the nation to be shamed again?

“One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” The Federalist No. 22 by Alexander Hamilton.

Trump’s denials of conflict of interest do not pass the smell test in reference to the Constitution. And his tweeted announcement that his business will make “no new deals” demonstrates his lack of understanding or regard, or both, for the Constitution and the depth of his conflicts of interest. His tweet is as hollow as his promise to reveal his tax returns and as empty as the Trump Foundation. According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump has 111 businesses in 18 countries spanning Asia, South America, the Middle East (see a complete list of Trump’s known conflicts of interest). And then there’s Russia, a whole other can of worms, including five million barrels of oil a day, a lot of money in Putin’s pocket from the state owned oil company Roseneft, and potentially an oil tanker full of rubles for President Trump.

Does America get it?

I hesitate to again cite the pop-culture meme, “Smarter than a fifth grader,” but it’s applicable. My granddaughter, albeit an eighth-grader, gets it. All of America needs to get it – get the never-to-be-violated constitutional truth.

Donald Trump, as President of the United States, will, unequivocally:

  1. Place the Office of the President in violation of the Constitution and create serious conflicts of interest on many fronts.
  2. Compromise the power of the United States in dealing with foreign nations, global corporations and domestic policy.
  3. Increase, significantly, his personal wealth simply by being a President who owns assets and businesses around the world.

Of course, there won’t always be a quid-pro-quo and a Trump Administration will be careful and Donald will constantly sing the refrain, “trust-me.” But it’s not simply about trusting him, although that’s critical, it’s about all the others. All those who see the opportunity to curry favor and take advantage of the slightest possibility that their actions will have a small positive impact, at some point in time. It’s human nature to act in this way. And it’s guaranteed. It’s what politicians, diplomats and corporate executives do. Always. Trump’s ownership of just one major asset, let alone billions of dollars of assets and revenue streams, will create a web of international conspiring that will exceed the mythology of the Illuminati – except the Trump conspiracies will be real.

There’s no art of the deal here

For perhaps the first time in his life, Donald faces a choice that is outside his belief system of, “I can have it all.” I do not think he expected to win the election and this is now a much bigger problem than he ever anticipated. It’s “yuuge.” And there’s no “art of the deal” here, this is black and white. He can’t have his cake and eat it too; he can’t have two empires, and screw one while benefiting the other. Unless America allows it.

Here are three options:

  1. He completely divests himself of all ownership of his assets (not just operational control) and becomes an honest, uncompromised President (not likely to happen).
  2. He steps down from the Presidency, Mike Pence becomes president and Trump retains ownership of his private empire, leaving the US empire uncompromised.
  3. He gets impeached for violation of the Constitution for any number of reasons: i) A foreign government favors one of his businesses with a speedy construction approval; ii) The General Services Administration, which manages the Old Post Office, home of the Trump International Hotel, has said the lease violates federal conflict-of-interest rules once Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2016; and iii) the Department of Justice will be in conflict when negotiating a multi-billion dollar settlement with Trump creditor Deutsche Bank, to whom he is indebted for a $100 million or more. Not to mention a myriad of other more clandestine activities (Russia comes to mind).
  4. There is an interesting fourth option proffered by Keith Olbermann on his TV show, The Resistance: The Surprisingly Easy Way to Get Rid of Donald Trump (it’s a 10 minute video)

What more do we need to know? He’s in conflict. Period. The question is: What will the stewards of America do – the politicians, media, and legal leaders to whom the country is entrusted? Will America rationalize and capitulate? Or will they put the nation’s integrity, trust and well-being before any one person, even the president?

ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos interviewed two experts and ethics counsel for two past presidents on the looming conflict.

(Sunday, December 11, 2016 – 4:53)

Some quotes from the video: There is no wiggle room

“It doesn’t matter who’s running these companies … these firewalls aren’t going to work.Richard Painter, Professor of  University of Minnesota Law School and Counsel to George W. Bush.

“If he retains ownership of the businesses and those businesses take money from foreign governments … or corporations controlled by foreign governments, he will be in violation of the Constitution, regardless of who is managing the businesses. It’s about who owns them.” – Richard Painter

“He’s also subject to other conflict laws. The bribery laws are intended to prevent conflicts, for example. He’s subject to criminal law. He’s subject to civil law. He’s going to be subject to litigation, he’s already in a lot of cases, this is going to come up in existing litigation.” – Norman Eisen

“There’s the broader conflict of interests. He owes hundreds of millions of dollars to banks. How do we expect a Trump Admin to [objectively] regulate the financial services sector?” – Richard Painter

“And there’s a Russian angle to all this. Because remember, we don’t have Donald Trump’s tax return … including perhaps his Russian interests. That may be the reason he doesn’t want to turn over his taxes … We’ve got to have those taxes to evaluate whether these conflicts go to the heart of our most pressing national security issues.” – Norman Eisen

It’s clear. It’s unequivocal. It’s reality.

No firewall can be created, no legal claptrap crafted that will protect the American people, as intended by the Constitution. None. So will any other leaders stand up and do what must be done, defend the Constitution? Time will tell. But don’t hold your breath. But do hold hope. Because with or without true leadership, America will survive Donald Trump.

To conquer a nation, first disarm its people. – Aldolf Hitler

Think about it.

Footnotes:

  1. The Lazio Speeches (1936), as quoted in The Book of Italian Wisdom by Antonio Santi, Citadel Press, 2003. p. 88.
  2. The Making of Donald Trump, Chapter 6, “Revenge.”
  3. Emoluments Clause, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution.

About the Author:

Straightspeak’s purpose is to be a catalyst for conversations that make a difference, conversations that foster and elevate thinking. Conversations that change perspective. "Amid the noise and haste” straightspeak is a colloquium for thoughts and knowledge that stimulate the mind. Enjoy! And share.

5 Comments

  1. John December 15, 2016 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Wow, David! You’re really over the top with this one. Trump hasn’t even been sworn in, and you already have him violating his oath of office and the Constitution. Please! I think it amusing to see people on the left now so intently focused on Constitutional propriety. They cite it when it suits their purposes and try to subvert it the rest of the time. In any event, it’s pretty hard to take any of this seriously when you’re citing a fool and known liar such as Keith Olbermann!

  2. david December 15, 2016 at 11:08 am - Reply

    @John: It’s not over the top. It’s fundamental. And it’s not a “cry from the left,” it has nothing to do with left or right. We need to step outside the ideological boxes and see Donald Trump for what he is, his personal values and character, not as a savior of the right or as the president. And that assessment should be done now before he’s sworn in. How, possibly, can ANYONE rationalize his massive, intertwined conflict of interest and give him a pass, a chance to do what is right? The true test will be if he divests ownership of everything. That will tell whether he will put America first. Anything less, is not in America’s best interests, only his best interest. And all his life, he has only been interested in Donald (numerous credible books cover this). This isn’t a political question, this is an ethical, integrity question. So many are saying, “give him a chance,” and so few saying, “put up or shut up, Donald.” We’re still waiting for some other leader to point out the obvious and stand for the Constitution. Taking this position isn’t even anti-Trump, it’s pro America’s Constitutional integrity. Or not.
    And as for Olbermann, don’t get the messenger mixed up with the message, he is a blowhard, narcissistic showman in the entertainment business, not journalism. He’s simply pointing out – and me too – an option that America may want and need if Trump is true to his character and lifelong behavior.
    I am saying: The fox is in the hen house and you might want to begin preparing his exit if he is true to his genetic and psychological make up. If he proves us wrong and makes a dramatic change, then perhaps “America will be great again.” This is not about “left or right” – that’s a bogus perspective – it’s about right (as opposed to wrong)!

  3. David December 17, 2016 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    @emails and additional comments: I’ve had numerous email responses on this issue and I asked readers to post in comments but they obviously prefer not to. So I’ll try and summarize here. Most comments center around either giving Trump a little time on which we can better judge his actions or that this is an ideological argument, left vs. right. On the latter, it’s not, it’s principle-based. Other than a handful of irrational ideologues, no one is trying to argue that there is no conflict of interest, which is obvious to anyone, liberal or conservative, rather it comes down to the question of what can be done to avoid any conflict. That is the fundamental question and the answer is straightforward (as the blog attempts to address). Everything else is a rationalization, a hedge, a fudge, a non-solution. And let’s be clear, it is not Trump’s jeopardy we need to worry about, it’s the jeopardy the Office of the President is put in, and as a corollary, America.And the [poetnial for conflict is so real and so large that it’s not a can we should kick down the road.

    What I am saying is, Trump, as president, needs to put America’s interests before his. Now. That’s what presidents are supposed to do. That’s why he was given this highest of honours, this unparalleled opportunity, this once in a lifetime gift. Of course, to be fair, many presidents don’t do what they should. But in Trump’s situation, the stakes are far, far greater simply because of the expanse of his business interests and how they are intertwined and directly in conflict with America’s interests. This is a one time, one off, do it right, or the consequences could be far reaching. At this level of entanglement, there are no mulligans. One – just one – wrong decision based on the slightest perceived bias toward personal interest could cause unprecedented long-term problems, consequences no president can overcome. That’s why putting America first (“Making America great again”) means full divestiture of ownership. Anything less is … well, Trump first, America second.

    If there is another unbiased, non-ideological side to this debate, I’d like to hear it.

  4. Kelly mancari December 23, 2016 at 2:14 am - Reply

    Great article,David. Got me plenty worried as I now perceive the magnitude of the forthcoming strugle. This will be Trump’s Monica moment and will probably be front page material throughout his single term. Much nasty business got underway in the Middle East while Bill was distracted by the unrelenting press siege. Good luck America.BTW. I’m still waiting to hear from any American willing and able to swap citizenship.

  5. david December 23, 2016 at 9:53 am - Reply

    @kelly: you might inquire if Fred Avery wants to swap with you. After Trump fails way short of his expectations he might want to switch back to Canadian.

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