On Monday, April 3, the city council of our neighboring city of Cambridge passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to investigate President Donald Trump for impeachment, on the grounds that he is in violation of Foreign Emoluments Clause and Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Cambridge was the fifth American city to pass such a resolution.
Newton should be next.
[Full disclosure: I am not an impartial voice on this matter. My father is heavily involved in Free Speech for People, a nonprofit behind impeachdonaldtrumpnow.org, a website and campaign devoted to calling for Trump’s impeachment. My mother personally delivered a petition to the City of Newton calling for a resolution to be passed by our city council. I don’t agree with my parents on everything, but I wholeheartedly support them on this.]
I do not like Donald Trump, as a person or a politician. I would love to see him out of office. However, support for a congressional impeachment investigation is not about ideological disagreements with Trump, and can and should be nonpartisan. It is not a ploy to replace him with a Democratic president, as the presidency will remain in Republican control, but rather a means of ensuring our country’s security from outside interests. That most basic duty of our government should be an idea everyone can support.
The president should be a model citizen and follower of the law, and it is an abomination to our democracy for Congress to stand by and do nothing about the strong possibility that he is violating the Constitution.
The Foreign Emoluments Clause states that “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.” In other words, government officials are prohibited from receiving payments or benefits from foreign governments. This rule prevents officials like the president from having their decision-making affected by foreign influence.
The Domestic Emoluments Clause is similarly designed to prevent corruption and conflicts of interests, forbidding the President from receiving any form of payment from the United States or individual states apart from his yearly salary.
Trump, as owner and beneficiary of the massive, transnational conglomerate The Trump Organization, seems to be in violation of both.
While Trump turned over day-to-day operation of his businesses to his sons in a measly attempt to address concerns over conflicts of interests, he is still profiting from them. This means that China is putting additional money in Trump’s hands periodically every time its state owned-bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, pays rent to Trump Tower, of which it is the largest tenant. Any time a foreign dignitary stays in a Trump hotel, in fact, they are contributing to Trump’s wealth.
His continued ownership of his business means that when Trump’s application to trademark his name in China was finally granted in February after over a decade of struggle to do so, allowing him to profit from all uses of his name in China, there is a risk it was an attempt by China to gain favor and political influence with the president.
On the domestic side of the issue, when Trump spends weekends meeting with foreign leaders at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, if any taxpayer money has been paid to the resort–and consequently the Trump organization–during the visits, it is a major violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause.
Considering the wide array of suspicious, if not incriminating evidence, at least investigating potential grounds for impeachment is essential if we are to protect the United States from criminal abuse of the presidency.
So far, Congress has been slow to even discuss the possibility of beginning an impeachment investigation. To change this, Congress must be subject to loud and relentless pressure from the American people. An effective way to do this is through resolutions like the one passed in Cambridge.
As Newton’s city council has received a letter with more than fifty signatures calling for a resolution, they are required to consider the proposal. When they do, Newton residents can help encourage its passage through contacting their councilor expressing their support, and showing up if a public hearing is held.
Newton should stand as a leader in upholding the Constitution. We can do so by passing a resolution calling for a congressional investigation into the impeachment of Donald Trump.