When elected, most presidents either sell their assets or put them in a blind trust. Isolating presidents’ financial interests from their time in office has been a norm for decades: from Jimmy Carter giving up his peanut farm to Barack Obama liquidating his assets.
But Donald Trump is not like most presidents. He’s said he won’t divest from his businesses, even though his real-estate deals around the world open up countless opportunities for conflicts of interest. His unprecedented decision might violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution—a rule that’s existed longer than the American republic, but that has never before faced scrutiny in the courts. On Tuesday, a panel of Fourth Circuit judges heard an emoluments case, and its decision appears likely to send the fight to the Supreme Court.
Alex Wagner talks to Joshua Matz, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in that case, a Georgetown University law professor, and a co-author of the January 2017 Atlantic story “Emoluments: Trump’s Coming Ethics Troubles.”
The strange gifts throughout history that have defined the emoluments clause
Why Matz considers the solution that President Trump’s lawyers came up with “malarkey”
What could happen in these cases, now that the Mueller report has been submitted