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viewpoint

Donald Trump’s corruption

| Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Few people would defend corruption. And those few happen to be immensely wealthy. Multiple narratives are being told in this country about corruption, but it’s exceedingly easy to tell where they are coming from — just follow the money.
Let’s start with a baseline definition of corruption, because America seems to have lost track of it since President Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced.”
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines corruption as “dishonest or illegal behavior, especially by powerful.” Notice how the definition does not just include illegal behavior, but also includes dishonest behavior. According to this generic definition, one could be forgiven for thinking that lying to the American people is a form of corruption.
Let’s take a deeper look by examining the definition of “political corruption.” Aristotle defined political corruption as “the practice of leaders who rule with a view to their private advantage rather than the pursuit of the public interest.” It would seem that not much has changed in 2,300 years.
In modern America, we don’t even blink when we see millions and billions of dollars in untraceable dark money changing hands every two years. That’s just how the game is played in 2018. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Our Founding Fathers not only warned us, but gave us the tools to root out corruption, by giving us a dagger to drive through its black heart.
One might argue that the entire purpose of the Constitution is to stand as a bulwark in the face of corruption. Article I of the Constitution directly contains the passage “No Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, 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.”
The so-called “emoluments clause” has been heavily debated over the course of the last two years. “Emolument” was a very common term when the Constitution was written, but today, it needs to be defined for most readers. Emolument is usually defined as monetary profit or a “thing of value.” Thus, the emoluments clause states that no politician shall receive a thing of value from a foreign nation. Unfortunately, we have current politicians who are credibly and justifiably accused of doing just that. If you haven’t been paying attention to the Mueller probe, this is the week to start.
Last week, the President’s personal attorney pleaded guilty as a result of the Mueller probe, and revealed the President of the United States of attempting to bribe the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, with a thing of value worth 50 million dollars — a penthouse suite in Trump Tower Moscow. The President spent two straight years lying to the American people on this exact point, tweeting “NO COLLUSION!” and “WITCH HUNT!”
If you haven’t seen the cold opening to Saturday Night Live from this past weekend, you should look it up immediately on YouTube. It includes a musical number involving a lineup of the world’s most heinous criminals singing, “It’s just a witch hunt, and we’re all witches! And live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
Nick Myers
class of 2011
Dec. 2

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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