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Practical Politics


To begin with, here is the major prognostication: the official Mueller Report, whenever it is made public, is going to say that Russia made Donald Trump POTUS, not simply that Russia attempted to aid him or that Russia tried to attack our electoral system in favor of one candidate.

There are more than 194 officially recognized countries in the world. The majority of those countries have a democratic republican government of some type, with elected parliaments. Most of those democracies have faced nearly catastrophic disruptions at least once in their evolution. In the USA, that disruption was called the Civil War.

What usually saves and stabilizes republican democracies, as it has in this country, are independent, trustworthy judiciaries. Attacked in the years leading up to the Civil War in a historical process called Nullification, which identified states ignoring Supreme Court decisions and continuing their illegal activities, the court declined in influence and luster. But since the Civil War, this country’s federal court has essentially regained and even expanded its authority, influence and trustworthiness in American culture and government.

Regarding the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the Trump presidency, the federal court is now stepping up big time and will probably serve once again as the balance-beam in this new hour of attack on American democracy. Already, the court has had to step in and block several of Mr. Trump’s poorly written executive orders, and to slap down brazen attempts by some states, inspired by Mr. Trump, to decrease the voting rights of African Americans and Latinos.

Now, the court is being asked to rule on whether President Trump is violating the US Constitution by continuing to privately profit from his business holdings which have all spiked in their financial transactions as customers seek to influence

Mr. Trump’s decisions. This is called the Constitutional Emoluments Clause issue and there are several law suits that have been filed against Mr. Trump based on that clause.

The two most important of these cases-the first filed by a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and the other by 200 members of Congress, the most congressional members to ever sue a sitting president-have already passed significant hurdles against being dismissed.

The CREW case will get a substantial ruling to either move forward or to be dismissed later this month. The federal judge in charge of the case-Justice George Daniels-just took oral and written arguments for and against the case on Oct. 18th and promised a ruling within 30 days. That case will be based both on the issue of the legal standing of the plaintiffs and a legal definition of what is and is not an emolument. The congressional case, based on the Constitution’s mandate that only Congress can decide to grant or not grant the POTUS permission to accept emoluments, was filed in June and has its first real day of reckoning in December.

The odds are that the court will rule against Mr. Trump in one or both cases primarily because he never established a blind trust for his business interests as have most other presidents. Consequently, he will probably be forced to divest himself and stop making profits from those businesses while he remains commander-in-chief.