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Friday, March 10, 2017

Trump on trial, not yet.

Only the House of Representatives can initiate impeachment of the President for prosecution by the Senate. When both chambers are corrupted by conflicts of interest and acts of obstructing justice, then what is next? 

What legal recourse has the Office of Government Ethics?

"United States Office of Government Ethics 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 
The United States Office of Government Ethics (OGE) is an independent agency within the executive branch of the U.S. Federal Government which is responsible for directing executive branch policies relating to the prevention of conflict of interest on the part of Federal executive branch officers and employees. Primary duties include the following:
Establishing the executive branch standards of conduct; 
Issuing rules and regulations interpreting the criminal conflict of interest restrictions;
Establishing the framework for the public and confidential financial disclosure systems for executive branch employees; 
Developing training and education programs for use by executive branch ethics officials and employees; 
Ensuring that individual agency ethics programs are functioning properly by setting the requirements for them, supporting them, and reviewing them.
The President appoints the Director of OGE after confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The Director of OGE serves a five-year term, thereby overlapping presidential terms, and is subject to no term limit. The rest of the OGE employees are career civil servants. Created by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, OGE separated from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 1989 under reform legislation.[1] 
The present Director of OGE is Walter Shaub, who was appointed in 2013. 
Trump conflicts of interest 
A series of tweets on 30 November 2016 from the office's official Twitter account praised President-elect Donald Trump for planning to divest his business holdings in order to resolve potential conflicts of interest, following an announcement where Trump reaffirmed his intent to take himself out of business operations, despite him having made no firm commitment to a divestment like selling his businesses or a blind trust. Some observers speculated that the office's account might have been hacked, a suggestion it later denied.[2] The New York Times suggested that the apparent misunderstanding behind the postings were deliberately intended to reveal the independent agency had advised Trump's legal counsel that divestment was the only adequate remedy for resolving any conflict, and, by extension, pressure Trump into doing so.[3] A Freedom of Information Act request by news organization The Daily Dot revealed that OGE Director Walter M. Shaub personally ordered officials within the agency to post the nine tweets.[4]

The Emoluments case against Trump is a tedious process without precedence.

"Does the emoluments clause lawsuit against President Trump stand a chance?
By Jonathan H. Adler January 23

President Trump on Monday in the White House. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)
Monday morning, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal government watchdog organization, joined with several prominent law professors to file a lawsuit against President Trump alleging that he is in violation of the emoluments clause (a.k.a. the foreign emoluments clause) of the Constitution. The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, seeks a declaratory judgment on the meaning and application of the clause, a ruling that Trump has violated the clause and an injunction prohibiting further violations. Those joining CREW in the suit include Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, UC Irvine’s Erwin Chemerinsky, and Fordham University’s Zephyr Teachout. The complaint is here. 
One problem for the litigants is that there is virtually no precedent on the scope and application of the emoluments clause, and scholars disagree on what sorts of arrangements would constitute a violation of the clause, and even whether it applies to the president at all.  Historical practice provides some guide, but it’s not dispositive. There have been a handful of memos from the Office of Legal Counsel over the years, but they are not entirely consistent with one another. While we can reject some of the more expansive interpretations of the clause suggested by some commentators, real questions remain about which of the president’s extensive business relationships and interests could give rise to emolument clause violations and under what circumstances. (And even if the president is not violating the emoluments clause, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned that his investments create other conflicts of interest, and that he should do more to extricate himself from such conflicts, but that’s a subject for another time. This post is focusing on the legal issues.) 
CREW faces a bigger problem than trying to convince a federal court that Trump is violating the Constitution. It will first have convince the court that it is entitled to litigate this question at all.  In order to maintain a suit in federal court, a plaintiff must show that the requirements of Article III standing are satisfied. In this case, CREW’s arguments for standing are a stretch. In short, CREW will have a hard time showing that it has suffered a cognizable injury from Trump’s alleged violation of the emoluments clause — an injury that is both actual or imminent as well as concrete and particularized to CREW — let alone that such injury was caused by Trump’s conduct and that it is redressable by a favorable court judgment. 
The core of CREW’s argument for standing is that Trump’s violations of the emoluments clause have injured CREW because, as an organization dedicated to policing government ethics and misconduct, these violations give it more work to do and divert resources from other issues. From the complaint: 
CREW brings this action to stop and prevent the violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause that Defendant Donald J. Trump has committed and will commit, which have already injured—and, without a remediable order from this Court, will continue to injure—CREW in the form of a significant diversion and depletion of its time, resources, and efforts. CREW has standing under Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, 455 U.S. 363, 379 (1982), because there has been a “concrete and demonstrable injury to the organization’s activities[,] with the consequent drain on the organization’s resources.” See also Ragin v. Harry Macklowe Real Estate Co., 6 F.3d 898, 904-05 (2d Cir. 1993).

It looks to me like Trump will have to be taken down by the will of the people.

Will Trump’s Tax Records Be the Next Pentagon Papers? 
A broad coalition of activists is agitating to force the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns, but it may turn out that the only way we’ll ever see his records is if someone leaks them to the media.
byPeter Dreier

1 comment:

  1. "Sen. Dianne Feinstein goes there and calls out Donald Trump today for defying the Constitution, this after news that China may grant Trump 38 more trademarks for his businesses.

    She’s calling on Republicans to step up and work with Democrats to hold Trump accountable to the Constitution. Of course, you sure as heck know Republicans will look the other way on this one too. (See Sessions lying under oath)

    Republicans are the great enablers of Donald Trump. How much more before they believe the U.S. Constitution is more important then their fealty to Trump?"

    Senator Feinstein