Former ethics chief under George W. Bush, Richard Painter, had some harsh words for Donald Trump on Monday after the president called the Emoluments Clause “phony” and defended his presidential profiteering.
Trump didn’t just trash the Constitution in his remarks, but he acted as though he was doing the country a favor by being president.
“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause,” Trump said earlier in the day. “I would say that it’s cost me anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president. … I would’ve made a fortune if I just ran my business.”
Painter said that the specific clause of the Constitution that Trump whined about is critical and ensures that government officials aren’t being influenced by foreign powers.
“It is not a phony Constitution. We are not a phony country,” the former Bush ethics official said. “We have a Constitution, and we don’t want a phony president.”
Former Bush ethics lawyer @RWPUSA trashes Trump for calling the Emoluments Clause “phony.” #ctl #p2 pic.twitter.com/RDqQBk4d9r
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) October 21, 2019
What other parts of the Constitution are phony? The First Amendment? Freedom of the press? The impeachment clause of the Constitution? He is going to find out about that one soon. The 25th amendment, is that phony? The 25 amendment that empowers the cabinet and the Congress to remove a president who is psychologically unstable, unfit for office? If he wants to say the Constitution is phony, he has no business being president of the United States. He needs to be impeached and removed from office now. The Emoluments Clause is a critically important part of the Constitution that was inserted in there by the founders because they did not want foreign governments being able to influence United States government officials. This is the reason why I, on behalf of CREW – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – filed a lawsuit on President Trump’s first day in office under the Emoluments Clause asking that he be enjoined from violating it. The second circuit court of appeals has just upheld that lawsuit brought by our plaintiffs, who are restaurant owners and hoteliers who compete with Donald Trump. There are two other lawsuits pending. Two federal courts have made it very clear that Donald Trump’s understanding of the Emoluments Clause is wrong and that this type of payment is unconstitutional. It is not a phony Constitution. We are not a phony country. We have a Constitution, and we don’t want a phony president. He needs to get out of there if he can’t play by the rules.
Trump – not the Constitution – is phony
It doesn’t take a political scholar to recognize that Donald Trump simply doesn’t grasp America’s system of government. He lashes out and calls the Constitution “phony” because he doesn’t understand it.
Like everything else in his life, from business ventures to women, the president believes the U.S. government is just his personal playtoy. To him, it doesn’t matter what laws he breaks or who he hurts so long as his personal interests are being served.
He may have gotten away with this conduct earlier in his life, but being president of the United States is not a trashy casino that he can bankrupt or an adult film star that he can pay off.
As much as he wishes it to be true, the U.S. Constitution is not a phony document over which he can constantly trample. As Democrats sprint toward impeachment, Donald Trump is about to discover that the hard way.
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Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.