Trump Is Still Impeachable

I have no idea if impeachment is good politics, but, once again, we find publicly available grounds for impeachment. And, no, I’m not referring to yesterday’s disgusting spectacle by America’s Crown Prince and Princess in Jerusalem. I’m talking about emoluments (boldface mine):

A billion-dollar Indonesian property development with ties to Donald Trump has become the latest project in China’s globe-spanning Belt and Road infrastructure project – just as Washington and Beijing are tussling over trade.

A subsidiary of Chinese state-owned construction firm Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) signed a deal with Indonesia’s MNC Land to build a theme park outside Jakarta as part of the ambitious project, the company said on Thursday.

The deal is the latest to raise questions about the extent of Trump’s financial exposure to Beijing.

The park – expected to be backed with up to US$500 million in Chinese government loans – is part of an “integrated lifestyle resort”, known as MNC Lido City.

The project includes Trump-branded hotels, residences and a golf course, as well as other hotel, shopping and residential developments.

Referring to its subsidiary, MCC described the theme park as “the first culture and tourism industry project by the Central Research Institute of Building and Construction” and was “in response to” China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

It is also the first project to link the US president’s business interests to China’s signature infrastructure initiative, which aims to connect the world’s second-largest economy with Africa, Asia and Europe through a vast network of ports, railways, roads and industrial estates.

While the Chinese companies will not be directly involved in the construction or financing of the Trump properties, the theme park is a critical part of the 3,000-hectare development, which MNC describes as Indonesia’s “most prestigious entertainment & lifestyle project”.

Furthermore, Chinese companies are expected to put up US$500 million – half of the development’s projected budget – putting its success or failure in the hands of decision-makers in Beijing.

It is not clear to what extent the Trump Organisation was involved in the decision to include Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the project.

But marketing materials for MNC Lido City refer to the theme park and Trump properties as flagship elements of the development, and corporate filings and internal documents show the Trump Organisation and the president’s sons have been directly involved in various stages of its planning.

Negotiations on the Lido deal began before Trump’s November 2016 election and subsequent pledge that his family business would not engage in new transactions with foreign governments during his presidency.

Still, “even if this deal is completely and entirely above board, it simply furthers the perception of impropriety” surrounding Trump’s business dealings, said Christopher Balding, an economics professor at Shenzhen’s HSBC Business School. “Especially with the potential trade war, this is not a good look … Critics will be entirely right to demand answers.”

In January 2017, Hary travelled to New York and Washington for “a design review with Trump” and to attend the presidential inauguration, the documents showed.

As with so many things in life, timing is everything (boldface mine):

A mere 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half-billion dollars into an Indonesian project that will personally enrich Donald Trump, the president ordered a bailout for a Chinese-government-owned cellphone maker.

“President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast,” Trump announced on Twitter Sunday morning. “Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”

Trump did not mention in that tweet or its follow-ups that on Thursday, the developer of a theme park resort outside of Jakarta had signed a deal to receive as much as $500 million in Chinese government loans, as well as another $500 million from Chinese banks. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort, which includes a golf course and hotels…

For ethics advocates, the timing of the ZTE tweet on the heels of the Indonesian development announcement is yet another example of the consequences of Trump’s unwillingness to abide by the emoluments clause.

The Chinese government seems to have figured out a way to manipulate President Trump,” Weissman said. “It’s exactly why this anti-bribery clause of the Constitution is common sense.”

Remember that ZTE faced sanctions for national security reasons. Forget Mueller. We already have grounds for impeachment.

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