Constitution Under Scrutiny After Ivanka and Nordstrom Rift

Constitution Under Scrutiny After Ivanka and Nordstrom Rift

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Opinion: Ivanka Trump recently had her clothing line dropped from Nordstrom. The company has, in a statement made to Fox Business, said that political motivations were not the cause of the drop. Be that as it may, the underlying reasons for the drop were politically influenced by consumers as both Anti-Trump and Trump supporters boycott certain businesses and products. Fox Business News also reports that the sales of Ivanka’s clothing and accessory lines had declined steadily and that it made no sense for the business to continue selling the products. When comparing the sale of Ivanka’s clothing line from last January to this January, there is a significant percentage drop, which illustrates that there is a correlation between the decline of Ivanka’s clothing line and her father’s election. According to CNBC, the “[decline] of Ivanka [Trump’s] goods online [was] evident after the election, and beyond. Ivanka Trump's online sales fell 26 percent in January compared to January 2016.” The drop of her clothing line signifies much more than a simple release by the company. Nordstrom’s decision and Trump’s reaction to it show that Trump is, of course, going to be involved in the business ventures of his family. This then leads scholars and average citizens to wonder about the constitutionality of Trump’s involvement in his family’s business affairs.

Donald Trump has shown that he is capable of distancing himself mentally from his businesses. However, this does not mean that he has removed himself emotionally from the businesses that he spent decades building. One of Trump’s key campaign promises was to remove himself from his businesses, which he did, by placing his sons in charge of them. However, critics such as the Huffington Post have stated that “the president is incapable of emotionally disconnecting himself from his family’s brand-driven financial interests.” There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits him from being emotionally involved in his family’s businesses. Just because Trump is now president of the United States, it does not mean that he stops being a member of his family.

The Washington Post writes that, “[a]s a general rule, public officials in the executive branch are subject to criminal penalties if they personally and substantially participate in matters in which they (or their immediate families, business partners or associated organizations) hold financial interests.” Trump has handed his business empire over to his sons and a financial officer. The president will not be discussing business practices with them. To stay in line with the Constitution, Trump has appointed an ethics advisor, Bobby Burchfield. In regards to Ivanka’s clothing line, all Trump has done is issue a tweet condemning the company of dropping his daughter’s line, which is hardly a substantial act of participation and if brought to court it would have no legal bearing. An article on Slate's website states that “Norm Eisen, who served as the chief ethics lawyer for the Obama White House and who is working with CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington), suggested on Twitter that Trump’s comments gave Nordstrom standing to sue him under unfair competition laws, particularly California’s State Law, which protects against any business practice deemed ‘unfair,’ ‘unlawful’ or ‘fraudulent.’” However, the same article also iterates that Nordstrom would have to prove without a doubt that Trump’s tweet harmed its business. Nordstrom would also have to think about the possible consequences if the company chooses to go against Trump.  

An article in the Time magazine argues that “[a] truly blind trust involves an arrangement wherein the public officer has no control whatsoever over the assets placed in the trust — that means no communications with, from or about the trust, and no knowledge of the specific assets held for his benefit in the trust.” Trump’s tweet about Nordstrom being unfair to his daughter was nothing more than a rant by an angry father. He was not acting as businessman. TIME magazine argues that President Trump should be impeached because he is too involved with his family’s businesses. The example with Ivanka and Nordstrom illustrates this point. However, the Constitution does not require that a president release control of his assets once taking the oath of office. That is merely tradition. The only thing that is required of a president is that he shall not receive any payment, fee, and or salary from heads of state, kings, and or princes.

TIME magazine uses Article I, Section Nine, Clause Eight [the Emolument Clause] of the Constitution as support to illustrate its premise that Donald Trump should be impeached. Section I, Section Nine of the Constitution states that “... no person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office or Title of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.” There are no laws that completely define what the Office of Profit or Trust means. However, it can be assumed that the founding fathers wanted to prevent a return of aristocratic power to their new form of government. The president is far from turning our government into one that resembled the aristocracy of our founding fathers time. The president is not accepting any of the aforementioned articles from a King, Prince or foreign State. In an article, NPR reports that “the nonprofit CREW claims President Trump is violating the [Emolument] Clause when foreign entities book rooms at the D.C. Hotel or lease Trump office space.” NPR is forgetting a crucial piece of logic here, which is that President Trump is not offering foreign dignitaries or heads of state any type of deal that would benefit them. Trump is not saying: if you stay at one of my hotels I will be good to your country. That would be unconstitutional and Trump is not doing that. Trump has taken the necessary precautions that would protect him and this great country.

Follow this author on Twitter: @jrichardson1776

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