On The Monitor this week:
- The case for the impeachment of President Trump with Catherine Ross
- A one state “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian question with Ali Abunimah
More about this week’s guests:
Catherine Ross is a professor at the George Washington University Law School, where she specializes in constitutional law (with particular emphasis on the First Amendment), family law, and legal and policy issues concerning children. She is the author of Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights (Harvard University Press, 2015). The Fourth Edition of her family law casebook, Contemporary Family Law (Foundation Press/West) (co-authored with Douglas Abrams et al.) was also released in 2015. She is spending the 2015-2016 academic year as a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Last week she took part in a press conference with groups organizing ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org that featured a petition of 850,000 signers urging Congress to initiate an impeachment investigation into President Trump’s corrupt business dealings.
Quote: “President Trump has likely been violating the Constitution since the moment he was inaugurated because he refused to divest himself of ownership of the Trump Organization and all of its businesses and properties. Profits from those business interests, we learned a week ago, are expressly being held for him. This arrangement appears to violate Article II, Section 1 (7) of the Constitution, known as the domestic emoluments clause, which is squarely aimed at preventing presidential corruption, and which has not received sufficient attention in the last few weeks. President Trump has challenged the rule of law by saying laws about ethics and corruption don’t apply to him — but he can’t say that about the domestic emoluments clause because its language is clear. It applies only to the President. It says that the President ‘shall not receive’ any ‘Emolument’ from the federal government or the government of any state during his term in office, thus limiting the material benefit of his office to his salary. Emoluments were defined broadly by the dictionaries at the time the Constitution was written. Emoluments are not just payments, profits or bribes, though all of those are emoluments that have been known to flow to office-holders. Emoluments also include advantages, opportunities, and what today we would call sweetheart deals. The Trump hotel lease in D.C., and the federal government’s planned lease of space in Trump Tower in New York both implicate the domestic emoluments clause, as does the Trump Organization aggressive plan for expansion within the U.S. that will entangle the company with every level of government as they seek zoning, construction and environmental permits, approvals or waivers, as well as tax breaks that often accompany development plans. The bar against domestic emoluments is mandatory — Congress cannot waive it. Who is to enforce the constitutional mandate? It is not clear who could sue for enforcement. Impeachment is not to be undertaken lightly, but it is the remedy the Constitution provides.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada. He is the author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books and One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. You can see his most recent articles and interviews here including the recent piece “Trump-Netanyahu meeting lays ground for one-state solution”
Quote: “U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday morning, before going into their much-anticipated bilateral meeting. Asked about whether the U.S. was still wedded to a two-state solution, Trump broke with longstanding orthodoxy. I am looking at two states or one state, and I like the one that both parties like,’ the president said. On settlements, Trump reaffirmed to Netanyahu, ‘I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.’ Conventional opinion views any Trump abandonment of the two-state solution as capitulation to Israel’s far right wing that is pressuring Netanyahu from within his coalition to annex the West Bank outright. The annexationists may hope that the Palestinians could eventually be pushed out, or forced to live under some form of Jordanian jurisdiction — the so-called Jordanian option. That may even be the motivation of the anti-Palestinian extremists in the Trump administration, but the analysis fails to take into account the growing support amongst Palestinians for a democratic one-state solution. Trump has at least acknowledged that Palestinians must agree to the terms of any agreement. And Palestinians will not submit voluntarily to Netanyahu’s conditions. Israel could not just annex the West Bank on its own terms. Pressure would escalate — as it did on South Africa — to end openly declared apartheid. Indeed there could be no greater boost to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Even the Israeli president recognizes this. Speaking at a conference on Monday, Reuven Rivlin argued for annexation of the West Bank, but said it must mean full citizenship for Palestinians. ‘Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there,’ Rivlin said. ‘There is no [separate] law for Israelis and for non-Israelis.’ ‘It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all,’ Rivlin added.”
The music before and after the interview with Ali is “Hopeless Town” by Rasha Nahas. You can hear/watch it here.