It's easy to become numb to all that is emanating out of Washington. In one week President Trump's focus went from Russia and Putin to Iran, with Korea hanging in the background. While trade policies swirled and too many separated immigrant children remain separated, a Supreme Court Judicial nominee tries to gain favor, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's trial approaches and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen begins to indicate cooperation with federal authorities. A thousand crises a minute. Any one of these issues in any other presidency would be a major one.
This is not the time to let any of this get lost in a blur of mind fog. That's what President Trump would like to have happen as the pieces now begin to come together that could burst his self-made bubble of invincibility. Donald Trump's passionate love of money and often careless disregard for the consequences of how he gets it and how he uses it are reaching a moment of potential critical exposure.
Money. It has always been what Donald Trump appears to care about more than anything else. His public face of enormous success has often been shadowed by periodic financial troubles, including bankruptcies, that put his so-called financial empire at risk of collapse. Why should we care now? Because he never fully divested himself of ownership of The Trump Organization business. While supposedly run by his two sons, the President of the United States continues to profit from The Trump Organization bringing his personal business right along with him into the White House.
President Trump unabashedly and proudly opened the high end Trump International Hotel a few blocks from the White House shortly before he took office. He retained full financial involvement. Trump's D.C. hotel is frequented by foreign government lobbyists, organizations with a myriad of domestic business interests, and those who could be seen as trying to gain favor from the President. In 2017, Trump reportedly earned 40.4 million dollars from his local hotel as he sat close by running our government.
But the days of throwing ethics to the wind may finally be catching up with the President. Earlier this week a Judge ruled for a second time that President Trump must face a lawsuit accusing him of improperly profiting from his Washington hotel. The Judge stated: “A number of foreign governments” have “patronized or have expressed a definite intention to patronize the hotel, some of which have indicated that they are doing so precisely because of the president’s association with it." Lawyers representing the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland claim this violates the Emoulments Clause. Their legal discovery in this case could include a demand for Trump's infamous tax returns.
The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution has come front and center during the Trump presidency because of the flagrant flaunting of his business dealings remaining a personal source of cash flow. The Emoluments Clause was designed to prevent even the slightest appearance of corruption. It states:
“No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them [the United States], 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.”
DonaldTrump remains the first post-Watergate President not to release his tax returns. By not releasing them, he has fanned the flames of curiosity of thousands of reporters, legal minds and the rest of us wondering if our President has been guilty of illegal financial transactions that could compromise our country.
Which leads us to the increasingly important upcoming trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. It will be the first time evidence gathered by special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling of the 2016 election will be made public. Many issues could prove to have parallels to Trump's handling of his own fiances. In part, both men received Russian money for their business ventures. It's always been about the payoff, in one form or another, for Manafort and Trump. Look ahead to hear about where Manafort deposited money. Tax evasion. Money laundering. Greed and arrogance.
We can move right along to Michael Cohen, until recently Donald Trump's attorney and self-proclaimed "fixer". Just what Cohen has fixed and what he knows has prompted its own Federal investigation. The first bomb was dropped when Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, released an audio tape made by Cohen while he was speaking to Donald Trump. The conversation allowed us to hear the two men talking about setting up a separate corporation, a Limited Liability Corporation, to deal with payment to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal. The money would be used to keep an alleged affair between Trump and McDougal quiet shortly before the 2016 election. Nothing appears clean and separate when it comes to Donald Trump. It's been reported that another LLC set up to deal with porn star Stormy Daniel's relationship with Donald Trump received money from a Russian oligarch. Both Trump and Cohen have numerous LLC corporations that provide little if any knowledge about their functions and finances.
The scenario keeps coming back to money, Russia and politics, and the threads remain woven throughout Donald Trump's presidency. Trust in special counsel Robert Muller has, by necessity, become a new motto. Being honest with the American people from the beginning was never Donald Trump's style.