The United States federal government has now been shut down for five days during the holiday season. While Donald Trump initially said that he would proudly take responsibility for the shutdown, he has lately been frantically trying to shift blame to the Democrats, even though he explicitly promised not to do that. It’s an act of such brazen duplicity that it should serve as a warning to anyone considering putting any trust in anything that Trump says.
However, Trump’s exploitative nature had not yet begun to peak. It is now being reported that he has his government lawyers citing the shutdown that he is wholly responsible for as an excuse to delay a civil trial into his financial corruption. According to Politico:
“Justice Department attorneys representing Trump asked a federal appeals court on Wednesday to postpone indefinitely all further filings in an appeal related to a suit that the governments of Maryland and Washington, D.C., filed over Trump’s alleged violation of the Constitution’s ban on foreign emoluments.
“The government’s brief is not due until Jan. 22, but DOJ lawyers asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Va., to put the appeal on ice until the shutdown ends.”
Trump’s lawyers are arguing that the shutdown could result in the furlough of some federal employees whose services might be required for the lawsuit. Of course, anyone whose work is deemed critical would still be required to report for work. And a case involving unlawful activity by the President that could lead to impeachment would surely meet those criteria.
The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution prohibits gifts to the President from foreign and state governments. The lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleges that Trump is profiting from such expenditures at his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Many representatives of foreign governments have admitted that they are booking rooms at the hotel in order to curry favor from Trump. And the self-dealing also extends to other Trump properties and other organizations patronizing them, including the Republican National Committee.
For Trump be exploiting the shutdown this way is further evidence of his arrogance, entitlement, and disrespect for the law. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will be out of work – or working for no pay – during the holidays. They will be struggling to buy groceries and pay mortgages while Trump exploits their hardship to avoid accountability for his criminal behavior. On Thursday morning he even tweeted a veiled threat to hold Democrats hostage if he doesn’t get his way:
Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking,Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country. Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018
First of all, how did he determine that “most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?” And what if they are? Is he implying that it’s his intention to bring hardship to federal employees based on their political party? Perhaps what’s more important is that most of the people harmed by the shutdown are likely Trump supporters in red states who are reliant on government services. Not that he actually cares about any of them.
Trump’s transparent prejudices and political vengefulness is not only improper, but it’s also callous and sickening. But his attempt to profit from the suffering of others by asking the court to delay judgment on his malfeasance is cynical and self-serving. He must not be permitted to tarnish justice by turning his shutdown policy into a legal excuse to evade the punishment he so richly deserves.