Congressman Goodlatte recently delivered a handsome tribute to the United States Constitution. Most significantly at a time like this, he recited the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press, and the right of people to assemble peacefully for the redress of grievances.
I hope Goodlatte’s commitment to the Constitution extends to Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, known as the Emoluments Clause. It provides:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States; And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatsoever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
President Donald Trump has extensive foreign business connections, including with state-owned companies in countries like China. So far he has refused to divest ownership of his companies, simply turning over management to his older sons. If any one of those state-owned companies provides any sort of financial advantage to the president or one of his businesses, a case could be made that he has violated the Emoluments Clause. It’s also possible that foreign diplomats staying at Trump-owned hotels could violate the clause.
Trump currently faces a lawsuit on the matter.
Given Goodlatte’s clear devotion to the Constitution, I hope he takes these concerns seriously. Fortunately, as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, he is in a position to call hearings and give these matters the scrutiny the deserve.
He should be encouraged to do so– the sooner the better. Perhaps it could be part of a larger inquiry into the potential conflicts between Trump’s business interests and his position as president of the United States. I’m still waiting to hear whether he plans to pursue that, as requested by the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee.