Published August 31, 2019 / Updated July 21, 2020
Why We Resist
A series of indefinite length on the outrages of the Trump administration
One of the questions we at Resistbot get from our… detractoяs… is “what are you resisting?” There is no ten-word answer for that question: we want to believe that government can be an engine of change and compassion and decency in our society and so we fight for that, but what exactly are we resisting? Unfortunately, that list grows longer every day.
So this is part one in — to borrow a phrase from Roman Mars — “a series of indefinite length,” in which we take the moral, ethical, and administrative failures of the Trump administration and use them to teach ourselves about how our government should work.
This is why we resist.
Until President Trump was elected, the Emoluments Clause was a pretty obscure part of the U.S. Constitution. It’s why the White House is full of odd gifts and memorabilia given to the President over the years. Since the President can’t receive “emoluments” (a word which, in the 18th century, meant “profit, benefit, or advantage”), gifts from foreign heads of state became the property of the office rather than the person who held it.
Rather than get into the legal particulars, however, let’s just stick with the reason the clause is there. The President has a lot of power and the Framers wanted them working for the American people rather than some foreign government with deep pockets. More broadly, the clause is about making sure that the President is working to enrich all Americans and not just themselves.
Trump has violated the Emoluments clause
- He ended a longstanding project to move the FBI out of its headquarters in DC. The land the FBI headquarters currently sits on is across the street from Trump Hotel in DC and was slated to be developed into another hotel that would have been in direct competition with Trump.
- In general Trump has refused to divest from his businesses as President, and has used his ability to direct government business to the Trump Organization to siphon millions of taxpayer dollars into his personal accounts. The latest example being an infomercial for his property in Florida he delivered at the G7.
- The Saudi government and its lobbyists are spending millions at Trump properties to curry favor with the administration.
The first two examples stink of corruption but the last one is the nightmare scenario that prompted the Framers to draft the Emoluments clause.
On October 2nd, 2018, agents of the Saudi government abducted and later murdered Jamal Khashoggi: an American journalist working for the Washington Post. In response to the killing and the Turkish investigation into it, the Trump White House tried to get the Turks to drop the matter, offering as payment the extradition of a U.S. Green Card holder and political enemy of the Turkish government.
Rather than punish Saudi Arabia for the murder of an American, Trump sought to provide cover for the Saudis by selling out another American to the Turks.
This is why we resist.
How Can I Resist?
The House of Representatives is currently investigating Trump’s violations of the Emoluments clause but you can tell your Representative what you think about the issue to provide a sense of urgency. The above constitutes an impeachable offense by nearly any definition, yet the House has, thus far, refused to push for impeachment for strategic reasons. But, that is still an option if the public demands it.
To write to your Representatives and Senators, send the word Resist to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text RESIST to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to resist. 👊🤖