Emoluments and No-Confidence 101 Or Don’t Bring A Knife To A Gun Fight

Emoluments and No-Confidence 101 Or Don’t Bring A Knife To A Gun Fight


Leonard Zwelling


noun: emolument; plural noun: emoluments

a salary, fee, or profit from employment or office.

The Emoluments Clause is Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution. It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

The press has had a field day trying to take down Donald Trump. The press has failed.

On January 20, 2017 at noon Eastern Time, Mr. Trump will be sworn is as the 45th President of the United States.

Now if you don’t like that and would like to see it changed, you better have some substantial argument that Mr. Trump either did not win the Presidency (he did), is not fit to be President (maybe true, but that’s in the eye of the beholder), or broke the law. Given the difficulty people have had in unseating Presidents in the past–none has ever been convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors although some have come close–it is going to be very difficult to argue that Mr. Trump is violating the Constitution. Unless, he is.

In Article I, Section 9 is the clause written above that was meant to keep a wall (pardon me, I couldn’t help myself) between federal officials and undue influence from foreign governments. It is possible that the second Mr. Trump takes the oath of office, he may be in violation of this clause because he has income coming from foreign governments in his business dealings which, despite the nonsense he tried to perpetrate on the American press today during his news conference that he has turned all that over to his sons, have his name all over them.

How will we know if he’s susceptible to federal prosecution?

The easy answer is if someone takes the President to federal court claiming that he is violating the Constitution. Undoubtedly, if someone does this, it will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, which, depending on timing, may have eight or nine members and could actually split four to four along party lines upholding whatever ruling comes from lesser federal judiciaries below.

This is worth keeping your eyes on unless Mr. Trump does something even sillier that breaks the law. This is not at all impossible. Stay tuned.

My point here is that if you want to upend the Trump Presidency, it will take a Constitutional crisis to do so. All this Russian hacking stuff is not going to faze the President-elect once he assumes office. However, you have to admit that if Mr. Putin’s goal was to throw the United States into disarray, he may well have succeeded.

But after the videotape of the new President coming off the bus admitting to assaulting women and the many foolish remarks he has made during the campaign, and the fact that he won anyway, don’t bring a knife to this gunfight. Trump wins if you do. Putin is bringing knives. Attorneys pack guns.

The same is true at MD Anderson.

The Faculty Senate, CNBC, conflict of interest and nepotism have all plagued Dr. DePInho, yet still he stands. He had to layoff 1000 people and he gets away with this by blaming the dismissals on shared governance. His Chief Medical Officer guarantees the quality of care will be unaffected by the layoffs yet provides no evidence that this is so or even that he knows what the quality of care at Anderson is. The Chief Administration and Finance official is an attorney. The largest business he ever ran before running Anderson into a $110M loss was his own law practice. I guess that’s why it was practice. He’s still getting good at it.

The Faculty Senate has only one tool to use against the current President, his surrounding cronies, his tight alliances in Austin and those with the powerful and rich of the Board of Visitors. That is a vote of “no-confidence.” Only this will aver to the world that there is no faculty trust in the leadership of the President or his team. Anything else is a waste of time and effort.

If the Faculty Senate is not willing to make a statement that the manner in which the institution is being run is detrimental to all those working there or to those who depend on it for care, this goes on.

If you want to fight, assume it’s a gunfight and bring a gun. If you don’t want to fight—silence and don’t suit up!

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