Based on the mere existence of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution alone, not to mention the increasing pressure coming from the media and some members of both parties in congress, Donald Trump was likely going to have to divest himself of his business interests in order to keep it from crippling his presidency. But based on the panicked announcement which Trump made today, it appears he’s now worried that the Electoral College could take the presidency away from him before it even begins.
Across a four-tweet span this morning, Donald Trump announced the following: “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses. Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!” It’s the date that gives away what he really fears.
If Trump were worried that his business interests could sink his presidency, he’d be in no hurry. He still has seven weeks before Inauguration Day, plenty of time to divest himself from such a massive and convoluted business empire. Instead he’s holding his event on December 15th, just four days before the Electoral College casts its vote on December 19th. In so doing, he’s unwittingly acknowledged his fear that the Electors may use his recent unconstitutional business dealings as a reason for naming someone else president. Of course Trump has a history of never making good on his political promises, so anything he announces on December 15th will likely be misleading or an outright lie. But it’s a last ditch effort at convincing the Electoral College not to take the office away from him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report