Inspector General: GSA Ignored Constitutional Problems with Trump Hotel Lease

The Office of Inspector General of the General Services Administration issued a scathing report on “Evaluation of GSA’s Management and Administration of the Old Post Office Building Lease.” As the Inspector General concludes, GSA lawyers essentially ignored a glaring constitutional problem with leasing this federally-owned building to the Trump Organization.

As background, the GSA administers the lease of the federally-owned Old Post Office Building to the Trump International Hotel. The Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution provides: “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” (This is a separate provision from the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which applies to presents and emoluments from foreign governments and their instrumentalities.)

The problem is that the GSA leases the building to the Trump Organization, which is owned by the president. To make matters worse, the GSA’s lease contract includes standard language providing: “No . . . elected official of the Government of the United States . . . shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom . . . .” After Trump entered office, the GSA announced that it had concluded that this clause somehow did not apply, on the bizarre theory that since the Trump Organization nominally transferred management of the LLCs and corporations that operate the hotel to Trump’s sons, Trump will not “benefit” from the lease during his term in office. The GSA’s decision not to enforce the unambiguous term in the lease contract is a government benefit and domestic emolument.

The Inspector General’s report notes that the lease “raised issues under the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses that might cause a breach of the lease; however, GSA decided not to address those issues.” GSA’s own lawyers recognized the constitutional problem early on, but “the attorneys decided to ignore the emoluments issue … without conducting any research of the two Emoluments Clauses or checking for any OLC opinions.”

President Trump has been enriching himself from public resources since the moment he took office, and unfortunately in this case, federal government lawyers sworn to uphold the Constitution enabled his profiteering. Congress must begin an immediate impeachment inquiry.

A Turning Point for Impeachment

Today is a big day for impeachment news! Check out the following news and op-eds regarding impeachment:

Detroit Free Press: Now is the time to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump

In an op-ed published today, Representative Rashida Tlaib and Free Speech For People President, John Bonifaz, assert that, “President Donald Trump is a direct and serious threat to our country.” Their message is clear that the time for an impeachment investigation of the President is now:

“This is not just about Donald Trump. This is about all of us. What should we be as a nation? Who should we be as a people? In the face of this constitutional crisis, we must rise. We must rise to defend our Constitution, to defend our democracy, and to defend that bedrock principle that no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States.”

The Nation: Rashida Tlaib Calls for Taking Immediate Steps Toward Impeachment on Her First Day in Congress

In an article for the Nation, John Nichols reports on the Detroit Free Press op-ed, offering support for Representative Tlaib and John Bonifaz’s call for impeachment proceedings against the President. Nichols reflects on Representative Tlaib’s legal background and full grasp of the Constitution, writing:

[Representative Tlaib’s] sense of urgency, rooted in her own history as a lawyer and activist, will inform Tlaib’s service, as she makes clear in her rejection of petty political calculations regarding impeachment.

Los Angeles Times: California’s Rep. Brad Sherman to introduce impeachment measure

The LA Times reports that Representative Brad Sherman plans to introduce articles of impeachment against President Trump today, Thursday, January 3. Representative Sherman explains:

“There is no reason it shouldn’t be before the Congress,” Sherman said. “Every day, Donald Trump shows that leaving the White House would be good for our country.”

Axios: House Republicans’ new reality

Axios reports that Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are seeking an Investigative Counsel, “an attorney with several years of investigative or litigation experience.” This job posting is likely in anticipation of possible impeachment proceedings:

After controlling the entire government for two years, Republicans on the Hill and in the White House are assuming a defensive crouch, with incoming House Democratic chairs vowing aggressive investigations.

To take action and help us keep the pressure on Congress to launch impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, click here!

Impeachment Media Round-Up

Impeachment has been in the news lately with the recent sentencing of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and as the Mueller investigation continues. But we’ve known of Trump’s impeachable offenses, since he took the oath of office.

Check out our round-up of the latest news on impeachment proceedings against the President:

  • The New York Times: The Inevitability of Impeachment
  • Washington Post: If Trump’s actions aren’t impeachable, then what is?
  • The Hill: Mueller’s Choice: Impeachment Does Not Preclude Indictment
  • NBC News: Trump Confides to Friends He’s Concerned About Impeachment
  • Inquisitr: Donald Trump Impeachment Proceedings Could Start Soon, Predicts Key Watergate Figure
  • The Nation: The Impeachment of Donald Trump Is No Longer ‘Off the Table
  • The Boston Globe: Why Aren’t We Talking About Impeachment?
  • USA Today: How House Democrats Can Save Democracy and the Rule of Law: Impeach Donald Trump ASAP
  • Bloomberg: When Impeachment Is Mandatory
  • Salon: The Case for Impeaching Trump: I Voted to Impeach Nixon — I Can Recognize a President Running Amok
  • Thread by Harvard Law Professor, John Coates, on impeachment:

To get involved in the movement to hold the President accountable to the law, click here.

Rashida Tlaib Delivers ‘The Constitution Demands It’ to New Members of Congress

On November 27, US Representative-elect Rashida Tlaib delivered the book, The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, to every new member of Congress, as reported by the Independent Journal Review.

Tlaib tweeted about the gift:

Representative-elect Tlaib is one of the first of two Muslim women elected to Congress and is the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress. She has been vocal about her support for pursuing impeachment investigations of Donald Trump and is committed to holding our elected officials accountable to the Constitution.

Thank you, Representative-elect Tlaib, for your dedication to our democracy and for your efforts to provide new members of Congress with the tools to take action.

To learn more, read the article in the Independent Journal Review.

Photo by Rashida Tlaib

Jason Sattler for USA Today: Voters said please check Trump’s corruption. The only option left is impeachment.

In a powerful opinion editorial for USA Today, Jason Sattler, makes the case for impeachment to end the corruption and lawlessness of the Trump presidency. Sattler explores the most recent actions by Trump made in defiance of the law, including the unconstitutional and illegal appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General to undermine the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller; obstruction of justice; violation of two anti-corruption provisions of the Constitution; and more.

The day after Americans showed up to vote in numbers not seen for a midterm election in over 100 years, to deliver Republicans their worst House losses since Watergate, Trump promptly revealed his contempt for both the Constitution and the American people.

Matt Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general hours after the polls closed was likely unconstitutional, definitely dubious, and an all but obvious an attempt to obstruct justice — given that Whitaker has publicly laid out exactly why and how he’d undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

America cannot bet our democracy on guys who are willing to work for Donald Trump — or expect one investigation to contain the overwhelming rot of this administration.

The American people have responded to Trump’s assault on our democracy with marches, unprecedented political involvement and a massive drubbing at the polls. The people we elected need to show they are willing to rise up just as convincingly and check this president while that is still possible.

Click here to read the full article in USA Today. 

Photo: United_States_Capitol_-_west_front.jpg: Architect of the Capitolderivative work: O.J. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons