In an exchange on Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Bill Barr, admitted to California’s Dianne Feinstein that he didn’t understand the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The clause is meant to protect the United States system of government from “corrupting foreign influences” by restricting government officials from receiving “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Many Democrats and legal scholars believe the president has frequently violated the Emoluments Clause.
Barr said the president had a right to intervene in investigations as long as he had no personal stake.
“An easy, bad example would be if a member of the president’s family or a business associate or something was under investigation and he tries to intervene,” Barr said. “That would be a breach of his obligation under the Constitution to faithfully execute the laws.”
“Including the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution?” interjected Feinstein. Barr began stammering after a brief pause.
“Well, I think there’s a dispute as to what the Emoluments Clause relates to,” he replied as he fiddled nervously with his tie. “I have not personally researched Emoluments Clause. I can’t tell you what it says at this point.”
“Off the top of my head, I would have said emoluments are essentially a stipend attached to some office,” Barr continued. “But I don’t know if that’s correct or not. I think it’s being litigated right now.”
In fact, a federal judge ruled in September 2018 that congressional Democrats have standing to sue the president over emoluments violations.
Watch the video below.
Pompeo ridiculed by CNN panel for his ‘phony mock outrage’ response after being outed as a foul-mouthed bully
Responding to a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued through the State Department accusing an NPR journalist of being "shameless" for going public with an encounter she had with him in his offices where he cursed at her, a CNN panel all but rolled their eyes at his "phony" outrage.
Speaking with host Anderson Cooper, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called out the blustery Pompeo as well as many Republicans who took "umbrage" at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) mentioning a report that the Donald Trump would have their heads on "on a pike" if they crossed him.
Trump attorney Sekulow’s impeachment defense of president blown out of the water with Lindsey Graham statement
On Saturday, one of the biggest opening arguments made by President Donald Trump's legal team at the impeachment trial was that there was, in fact, a risk that Ukraine had meddled in U.S. elections.
"Mr. Schiff and his colleagues repeatedly told you that the intelligence community assessment that Russia was acting alone, responsible for the election interference, implying this somehow debunked the idea there might be in — you know, interference from other countries, including Ukraine," said Trump counsel Jay Sekulow. "This is basically what we call a straw man argument."
But MSNBC's Brian Williams knocked down this defense with a clip from none other than one of President Donald Trump's biggest allies: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
So much for ‘originalism’ — Trump’s impeachment defense is a constitutional dumpster fire
In the absence of any exculpatory evidence, Donald Trump's defense against impeachment increasingly relies on arguments that fly directly in the face of the Constitution. Trump himself set the standard last July with his grandiose claim that "Article II says I can do anything I want," which encountered no serious pushback from his fellow Republicans.
This article first appeared in Salon.