In the early ‘80s, my father was a major in the U.S. Army and stationed near Seoul, South Korea while my sisters, my mother, and I stayed by our extended family in Springfield, Missouri. My two sisters and I were all under the age of 10 and to communicate with our dad we used the old fashioned method of writing letters. We missed our dad―from the simple goodnight kiss to getting us resettled when our home was destroyed by a tornado. We made those special sacrifices because our father was serving our country and fighting for our freedom. I remember our mom telling us that Dad was keeping the country safe and when his 12 month tour was over, he would be home. I will never forget my father getting off the plane at the Springfield airport and greeting us with giant hugs as we all cried happy tears. Our Dad was finally home safe.
Every military family member who has a father or a mother, a sister or a brother, a wife or a husband serving outside of the United States deserves a happy reunion. Unfortunately, President Donald Trump’s failure to sell his business interests, especially those in foreign countries, means that more families will be at risk and fewer families will have their happy reunion. President Trump did not sell his business interests in foreign countries prior to his inauguration.
According to The Trump Organization’s website, President Trump’s corporation currently has business interests in no fewer than 20 properties located outside of the United States, from resorts to real estate. These assets do not include holdings in companies located outside of the United States, or any debts owed to creditors outside of the United States. Although he presented a plan less than a month before inauguration, Constitutional scholars and ethics lawyers from both political parties say the plan falls short, and will lead to corruption and scandal. It’s clear that President Trump is in violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution, otherwise known as The Emoluments Clause:
“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.”
In plain English, the Constitution forbids the President from having foreign conflicts of interest. Our founding fathers wanted to ensure that the decisions made by our President, especially with respect to our national security, are made in the best interests of our country and not any personal interests of the President, either for a profit he may receive or for any debt he may owe. Our President serves the people of this country, not himself. The President is charged by the Constitution to put us, the people, first.
President Trump has never served in elected office before. And as a result, we only have his past business dealings and personal entanglements to see how he handles conflicts. According to a USA Today article by Nick Penzenstadler and John Kelly “just two weeks before Election Day, at least 75 of the 4,000-plus lawsuits involving Trump and his businesses remained open.” This is “unprecedented for a presidential candidate.” This proves that President Trump has a number of conflicts of interest in a variety of business dealings and personal matters across the globe.
What happens if ISIS or an enemy of the United States were to attack one of the Trump assets in a foreign country? Would Trump step back and evaluate the best response from an American perspective, or from his business’ perspective? Based on his tweets before, during, and after the campaign, I don’t have a lot of confidence that Trump could restrain himself from sending in the military.
That is a risk I am not willing to take and why I, as a military family member, will continue to speak out with veterans and voters to demand that President Trump put the United States and the American people first. In his inaugural address, he promised to put “America first.” But, we need more than words. Yes, he supposedly resigned from all positions of authority in The Trump Organization on January 19, 2017. But it’s not enough. He still has ownership interests in properties and businesses across the globe. He must divest these interests immediately. Each day that he retains these interests, he is in violation of the Constitution and loses our respect and trust.
Check out Congressman Ted Lieu’s clock documenting how long President Trump has been in violation of Article 1. Every minute, hour, day added to that clock represents additional time that our military is at risk of engaging in conflict because of President Trump’s personal interests. This is not what my father fought for when he left his family for a year to serve in South Korea. This is not what Senator Tammy Duckworth fought for when she literally lost body parts while serving in the Middle East. This is not what my friends who still serve in conflict zones around the world are fighting for. Those of us at home must raise our voices so that our military service members are reunited with their families. Please join me and ask President Trump to Put Us First by signing the petition here: http://www.putusfirst.us.
Barbi Appelquist was Co-Director of the California Veterans and Military Families for Hillary and serves as the Communications Director of the Truman National Security Project Los Angeles Chapter. She is also a member of 4D which supports progressive national security policy. For an annotated copy of President Donald J. Trump’s Inaugural Address go to www.npr.org