Donald Trump declared at the 2016 GOP Convention that he was running for president because the system was broken, and “I alone can fix it.” It was one of many signs that he thought he could run this country in the same manner that he ran his real estate empire–that is, he snaps his fingers, and we’re expected to obey him.
One would have thought that Trump would have figured that out by now. But apparently he hasn’t. On Friday, he used one of his typical 280-character rants to order American companies to stop producing goods in China. This tirade has to be reproduced in all of its autocratic glory to be believed.
For much of Friday, a lot of people asked, in so many words, “Quo warranto?” After all, most of us found it hard to believe that companies must jump just because the president “hereby orders” them to do so on Twitter. Trump responded that he had every right to make companies obey him.
Wrong, Mr. Trump. You have to consult with Congress before you invoke that law. And during that consultation, you may face some knotty questions about your own dealings with China–and with other foreign countries, for that matter. After all, at least one Democratic Senator is going to want some answers about those–Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
When Blumenthal saw Trump’s ex cathedra decree roll across his phone, he decided to call Trump’s bluff.
Blumenthal was referring to Trump maintaining controlling interest in his real estate empire despite its numerous dealings with foreign governments and state-owned businesses. A number of legal scholars from both parties have argued that this is a blatant violation of the Emoluments Clause, found in Article I, section 9 of the Constitution. It states that no one “holding any office of profit or trust” in the United States can accept “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”
One of the most visible dealings that Trump has with Beijing is literally in his backyard. The largest commercial tenant at Trump Tower is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest bank in the world. The Chinese government holds a 70.8 percent controlling interest in the bank. So if Trump were to obey his own decree, would he be willing to evict ICBC? Additionally, a good number of Trump-branded goods are made in China. So in order for Trump to obey his own decree, he would have to find somewhere else to manufacture them–and quickly.
Blumenthal fired off these tweets on Saturday afternoon. As I write this on Sunday afternoon, Trump has yet to respond. Remember, even when he is traveling abroad, Trump has been known to hit the ceiling at the tiniest perceived slight. One has to wonder if he knows Blumenthal has him busted.
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