Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump in the Hot Seat

trump in the hot seat

For a while I wondered as did most people - why Donald Trump has not divested himself of his assets  in order to avoid what looks about to be a major problem for his presidency.
What were his options that would have avoided  a potential hearing in the Supreme Court over his potential violation of the Foreign Emoluments clause in the Constitution.
This is a very real problem because it is a bipartisan group of ethics lawyers - very expert in their field - that are bringing the case.  He will not be able to argue political witch-hunting.
At issue is whether government officials (like the Chinese) are (a) paying for services by staying at one of his hotels, or (b) rewarding the President in a private capacity.
I believe that the  plaintiffs will argue that these Chinese officials (and many other officials from other nations) are doing both - because they are irrevocably entwined - and thus the President is violating the Constitution.  This is a pretty good argument and coming from a group of lawyers who are undoubtably more knowledgeable that the Supreme Court in this matter.  When you add to the matter that time is obviously of the essence - the Justices may be very inclined to accept the argument of the ethics lawyers, and partly because this is likely to become an even more serious issue that will not go away.
So one might imagine that since Trump's able attornies must have advised him of how serious this could be, why has he sat on his hands and done absolutely nothing ?
Lets take the first option, why not just give his business to his children. Well there is almost certainly a major problem here.  Like most real estate  businessmen, and by his own boasting (he is the King of debt) he is almost certainly heavily leveraged - which means he is on the hook for a lot of debt. 
If he were to give his assets to his kids, he would still be stuck with all of the debt.  That cannot be passed.  And it is likely that his debt is greater than his assets .  That would be highly risky - it could leave him a bankrupt after his presidency.
Second option - why not sell all the assets ?  Well for the same reason as before, it might literally wipe out the business, since the debtors would have first call on the proceeds.
Third option: put it all into a blind trust (that is with no family controlling any part of it) ?  Probably impossible because of the natur e of the business and the opaqueness of the business partnerships.
There can be only one of two outcomes of this.  The Supreme Court finds for the plaintiff and Trump is faced with the loss of all of his assets.  He would have to resign the presidency, or face an almost certain impeachment.
The other option is that the Supreme Court finds some magical way to let him keep his assets - and braces itself for  another ethics violation probably within weeks.  I think that a conservative judiciary will not place itself at such risk.

For these reasons I believe that Trump will resign within the next 12 months.
Perhaps the Congress will drag its feets in order to make Robert Reich's warning come true: