Abbreviated pundit roundup: Brazen corruption
We begin today’s roundup with Mark Joseph Stern at Slate who argues that Donald Trump’s decision to award himself the multimillion dollar G7 contract is an impeachment offense all on its own:
The president’s decision to exploit the G-7 summit for personal enrichment is so obviously corrupt, so shameless and extortionary, that it seems strange to debate whether it is also unlawful. And yet, from the start of Trump’s tenure, his opponents have struggled to find an effective line of legal attack against his self-dealing. Government watchdogs have sued him in federal court, but their efforts have stalled—in part because judges have struggled with the unprecedented nature of the offense: No other president has bilked his office for so much cash. It seems implausible that the Constitution would provide no mechanism to halt such brazen corruption. And yet, here we are, well more than halfway through Trump’s term, and the president’s heists are only getting more blatant. Can anything or anyone stop his raid on the public fisc?
xIn case it's not clear from my freaking out, this G-7 thing is an escalation. It may look from the outside like it's been corruption all alongÃ¢ÂÂbecause it has beenÃ¢ÂÂbut participating in a contract award to yourself is different by orders of magnitude. This is a red line crossed.Ã¢ÂÂ Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 17, 2019
Helaine Olen at The Washington Post:
One of the many lies of the Trump presidency is the idea that the president is so rich, he can’t be tempted by the conflicts of interests and penny-ante corruption other mere mortals couldn’t resist. This has almost certainly turned out to be the opposite of the truth, never mind Mulvaney’s claim that Trump has never profited from the presidency. Trump refused to put his holdings in a blind trust. Trump laughs in the face of lawsuits alleging violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause and any claims resembling conflict of interest. He’s traveled to and stayed at properties he’s owned well over a hundred times since he moved into the White House, running up monster bills every step of the way. Lobbyists flock to the Trump hotel in Washington, while others ranging from conservative interest groups to payday loan lenders book events at Trump properties around the country. This past summer, Vice President Pence, on an official state visit to Ireland, felt a compelling need to stay at the country’s Trump golf resort even though it was located more than 100 miles away from the site of his meetings. The president, his staff told the press, made the “suggestion” he stay there.