Did Trump Break The U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause?

Yes. See how easy that question is to answer? An emolument is basically making profit from the very act of being in office. In order for Trump to safely veer away from breaking the clause, he would have to disavow ownership of all his businesses, or place them in a blind trust. Instead, he handed over ownership to his sons — but that’s still technically a violation. Inviting world leaders to hold the G7 Summit at one of his resorts, though? 

That’s a more blatant violation. 

The emoluments clause was basically a fail-safe. The founding fathers wanted to protect U.S. government officials from being swayed by those who don’t have the country’s best interests at heart. That can include foreign governments or domestic business interests. Both are more likely to be thinking of themselves instead of the greater good.

According to Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the United States Constitution: “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 any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Of course an impeachment inquiry was already opened for other reasons, but it’s almost obvious that Trump will likely find himself facing an article of impeachment (at least) for breaking this law. 

It’d be just fantastic if that was the only law Trump were breaking with this announcement. But it’s not. It can be argued that his actions aren’t just a violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, but also the Domestic Emoluments Clause. Oh, and pretty much every single law that governs how the United States government can assign government contracts. 

To host the G7, as a business, you would have to enter into a government contract. These contracts are largely based on competition between businesses that want a piece of the action. For example, if a fictional company called Dunder Mifflin wants to sell the U.S. government paper, they would have to compete with a number of other companies. You want to know how the winner of that competition is picked? It isn’t because the president decides he likes one over the other — or because one of the competitors happens to be a business he owns

Writer Elie Mystal for Above the Law said it best: “Making the Emoluments Clause argument against the president for this deal is valid, but it’s a little bit like pursuing a Fourth Amendment violation against the president for a car-jacking. Sure, it probably is. But, also, THERE ARE LAWS AGAINST CAR-JACKING.”

We can literally point to a law, and Trump has already broken it.