July 9, 2017

Trump operates with a contempt for the Office of the Presidency. Trump's flirtation with legality has elicited the resignation of the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, and for good reason. Thus far, he has over 39,000 inquiries, compared with 733 for Obama's first year. Of course, Trump has only been in office for just over six months. Let that sink in.

Alex Witt roles a segment of "All In" featuring the now former Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub Jr., a man who resigned rather than be seen to endorse the barrage of ethically questionable conduct from the Trump camp. He explains that the "assumption of ethical conduct" is gone from this once noble office, thanks to President Stupid:

I've been doing government ethics for a long time and I really always thought that the ethics rules were strong enough to protect the integrity of the government's operations. My recent experiences have convinced me that they need strengthening and frankly they've convinced me that I've achieved all that I can achieve.

Ethics professor of law at NYU, Stephen Gillers explained why the American people are and should be alarmed: the obvious monetization of the Presidency. As Shaub explains in another clip, the Trump White House attitude is:

If it's not illegal we're gonna do it, and if there's an argument that it's probably not illegal, we're gonna do it. So it's undermined a program that has existed for four decades.

Let's face it, Trump's lifelong pattern of existing on what his creepy attorneys deem legal or illegal continues. Those boundaries are irrespective of what is ethical, unfortunately. It matters not that every one of his predecessors divested their business interests upon taking up the office; even President Carter gave up his modest peanut farm. Trump believes the rules don't apply to him and it seems the rest of the GOP is okay with this garbage as well.

WITT: So the president has handed over control of his business to his adult sons, and is also a trustee. But he did not completely divest. To avoid the violation of the Emoluments Clause, the Trump organization says 'we will donate profits to the U.S. Treasury.' But then Jared Kushner is in meetings with foreign leaders. Is there a clear line when the brand is the government?

GILLERS: The real battle here is what the Emoluments Clause says, does it forbid only direct gifts and payments to the President personally? Which is probably not happening. Or as the challengers claim, does it prevent benefits to the President by enriching organizations from which he draws an income? Now that's the question and we have several lawsuits pending,...and whether any of them get answered by the courts is uncertain.

WITT: How confident are you that this will all be resolved to the public's satisfaction?

GILLERS: Not at all. First of all, it's not clear that anyone has the standing, the right to go to court to raise the question even to ask the courts to answer the question. And even if somebody does have the standing, the claim of the challengers that even indirect benefits or emoluments are forbidden, that claim has a long way to go. There are no court cases on this clause. And so that is an argument that will be challenging to make if it gets heard at all.

So, there's essentially no precedent for dealing with this kind of behavior because there has never been a president as unethical as Trump. Good luck and gratitude for the meticulous work of Mueller's investigation, because as far as ethics violations equaling removal from office, we are pretty much in uncharted waters, with no compass available.

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