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Why Trump Awarding the G-7 Summit to His Own Resort Is a Direct Violation of the Constitution

Of emoluments and bed bugs.

Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office with a stupid 'Who, me?' look on his stupid face.

Perhaps you, like me, fired up your internet this morning just to wonder why “#BedBugSummit” was trending on twitter. Amazingly, this had nothing to do with noted bed bug Bret Stephens. News broke yesterday that noted impeachment inquiry star Donald Trump decided to add another offense to the incredibly long list of bad things he’s done just this month and award himself the G-7 (Group of Seven) summit at his own resort property in Doral, Florida. That resort? Apparently infested with bed bugs.

Not only is this gross and not only is this just another stunt by Trump to build up his own brand and empire off the presidency, it’s a clear violation of the Emoluments clause on the United States Constitution. Now, we know that Donald Trump neither cares about nor understands the constitution as he has made clear for years. But we care about it and we know you do too, so what is this important but hard to spell clause all about?

The Emoluments clause (not the emollients clause or the annulments clause, thank you, spellcheck) is found in Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution. Here’s the text:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And 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.

So, what is an “emolument?” According to Merriam-Webster, it’s “the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites.” So, it’s a fancy way of saying payment or gifts. The clause was intended to prevent foreign influence over US elected leaders, a ship which has clearly sailed for Trump, but he’s still in violation of the Constitution even if he says he’s not.

It’s the foreign state thing that’s the big deal here. By setting the G-7 at his own, vermin-infested resort, the president is requiring foreign countries to pay him money to stay there. This is far different from the near-constant stream of cash that his administration and campaign have funneled into Trump properties—this is soliciting and demanding foreign money to go into his own pockets.

There’s an even wilder aspect to this—Trump is already being sued for violating the Emoluments Clause by Maryland and DC and the suit is on-going.  And it’s separate from a different Emoluments suit because he refused to divest himself of his empire. The very fact Trump continually benefits from foreign and domestic use of his (crappy) resorts and hotels is blatantly self-serving and unconstitutional.

Does this affect the impeachment inquiry? Not really. That inquiry is focused on the pressuring of foreign powers to interfere in American elections, with a deep connection to Ukraine. But there is a tenuous emoluments connection—Rudy Giuliani. He’s under scrutiny for working with Ukraine to pressure and lobby on their behalf … and some of that influence prior to his appointment as legal counsel to the pres was about getting a Trump property built in Ukraine.

This is all a complex mess of corruption with so much self-dealing and disregard for the laws of the land that it could make your head spin. The simple thing to understand here is this: the decision to put the G-7 at the Doral property is another in a long line of greedy, illegal things Trump has done, but perhaps this one is bad enough, and public enough, that it will add to the growing tide of scandals and finally get this guy out of here.

At least we can dream of it? So goodnight, and please, let these bed bugs bite.

(image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well a mom and author.