Pressure on Kuwait to move event to Trump hotel a ‘paradigm impeachable offense’

“A grave abuse of executive power.”

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File
CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File

On Monday, ThinkProgress reported that, after receiving pressure from the Trump organization, the Embassy of Kuwait moved a major event to the Trump International Hotel.

Kuwait’s National Day celebration, scheduled to take place at the Four Seasons prior to the election, will now take place at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a source direct with knowledge of the arrangements told ThinkProgress.

Several legal experts say that the allegations would constitute a violation of the Constitution. Larry Tribe, a Harvard Law Professor and one of the nation’s foremost constitutional scholars, called the scenario a “paradigm impeachable offense.”

If the facts are as alleged, this kind of scenario fits the paradigm impeachable offense even better than scenarios in which Trump is a wholly passive recipient of an unconstitutional foreign Emolument. Whatever one might think of purely passive acceptance of a forbidden payment, there can be no doubt that actively soliciting a forbidden Emolument is a grave abuse of executive power and thus a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

The term “emolument” refers to a payment to a president by a foreign power. Emoluments are expressly prohibited by Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution.

Norm Eisen, former Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, agreed with Tribe’s assessment. He described the allegations as “shocking” and potentially civilly and criminally actionable.

This is a perfect example of why Trump must sever from both his business interests and operations by appointing an independent trustee; otherwise, he will find himself mired in scandal. It’s bad for him, and bad for the country.

Eisen said that, prior to January 20, the activities of the Trump Organization could constitute a tortious interference with a contract. After January 20, it could amount to criminal collusion with a government official.

This is not a partisan view of the situation. Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, agreed the alleged activity would be unconstitutional.

“This is why we have the emoluments clause of the constitution and Trump will be in violation,” Painter said.

The event is scheduled to take place in late February, about a month after Trump will be sworn in as President.

Bahrain and Azerbaijan have also held events at the Trump hotel in D.C. since the election. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) called on Trump to “reject all business income from the Bahraini monarchy and all other foreign governments.”

Trump promised to explain how he would handle his unprecedented conflicts at a December 15 press conference, but that even has been postponed indefinitely.