Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Congress Suing Trump Over Foreign Gifts and Payments

Official portrait of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Close to 200 lawmakers have filed suit alleging that President Donald Trump is violating what is called the emoluments clause of the US Constitution. The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia early on Wednesday, June 14.

The plaintiffs argue that they have standing to sue the President since the clause states that only Congress has the ability to approve payments and gifts the president receives.
“The framers gave Congress a unique role, a unique right and responsibility,” said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut one of the organizers of the lawsuit.

Before taking office Trump bequeathed control of his assets to his two grown sons and a senior executive, but he did not divest from his holdings in any way. Therefore, there is a real possibility that he will gain financial benefit from the profits of the Trump Organization, and that will include foreign governments.

This third such suit also states that no one can discover the full extent to which the Trump Organization benefits from these payments since the president has never released his tax returns.

The first of the two previous lawsuits over the emoluments clause was only a few days after Trump’s inauguration in January; filed by a liberal-funded government watchdog group. Two co-plaintiffs joined the suit later; a restaurant group and two individuals in the hotel industry. The second suit was filed earlier this week by two Democratic lawyers with a similar claim.

The Justice Department and Trump stated that these are baseless lawsuits: the clause does not include normal business transactions such as hotel payments or real estate deals.
Michigan Democratic Representative John Conyers said that together with Blumenthal they organized “greatest number of congressional plaintiffs on any lawsuit against a president.” He added that they’re taking the action “not out of any sense of pleasure or partisanship but because President Trump has left us with no other option.”

Defying Trump, Business Leaders Say They Will Stay in Paris Accord

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will be moving the United States away from strict compliance with the Paris climate change accords shocked many in the business community, not just green activists.  Some of the country’s most respected business leaders were strong in their condemnation of Trump’s decision.

These leaders are not tree-huggers in disguise. Yes, many do see climate change for what it is, a threat to the future well-being of the entire planet, whether you live in Paris or Pittsburgh. But it is not this threat, which is many years in the future, that is rallying businessmen against Trump’s position on the Paris accords. It is pure and simple economics.

The majority of businessmen, not just in the United States, but around the world, agree that taking a realistic view on climate change and developing technologies and other problem solving methods are actually economic stimulants.

On May 10, with the (misplaced) hope that they could influence the President, 30 CEOs took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, publishing an open letter to Trump whose opening sentence says, “We are writing to express our strong support for the U.S. remaining in the Paris Climate Agreement.”

The letter was signed by the CEOs of the following major US companies:

  • 3M Company
  • Allianz SE
  • Bank of America Corp.
  • BROAD Group
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Cargill Inc.
  • Citigroup Inc.
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Corning Incorporated
  • Cummins Inc.
  • Dana Incorporated
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
  • General Electric
  • The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
  • Harris Corporation
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Kering
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Newell Brands Inc.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Royal DSM
  • Salesforce
  • Solvay
  • Tesla Inc.
  • Unilever
  • Virgin Group
  • The Walt Disney Company

This is just the list of companies that participated in the WSJ ad. There are more companies that agree with their position, including the CEO of Exxon.

Only two other major carbon producing countries refrained from signing the Paris Accord, Nicaragua and Syria. As one commentator put it:

“The U.S. cannot lead the world in any dimension if it abdicates responsibility and leadership for the greatest challenge facing humanity.”

Seven Billion Dollar Deal Could Bring 50,000 Jobs to US

The top and side of an iPhone 5S, externally identical to the iPhone 5. Photo courtesy of Calerusnak

Two high tech giants, Foxconn and Apple, are considering a deal to build a panel factory in the United States at a cost of about $7 billion and could create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs. Chairman Terry Gou of Foxconn said that an investment by Foxconn’s Sharp division will depend on the terms negotiated for the deal at the state and federal levels.

The announcement of the deal comes close on the heels of President Donald Trump’s inaugural address in which the new president promised to make “America First” as the backbone of his policies leading the nation. Trump stated in his speech: “We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.”

One of Trump’s campaign promises was to try and persuade Apple to bring the manufacture of iPhones to US shores. Trump said that he was optimistic that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, had his “eyes open” to the possibility. Foxconn is the biggest producer of iPhones.

Gou said that Trump-style protectionism was inevitable, but he is unsure how Americans will feel about spending hundreds of dollars more for a phone that does not work any better than a less expensive model that was made overseas.

Gou vowed to increase his investments in China. Apple is also dependent on China, not just for production, but also for sales. Last year China made up 22 percent of Apple’s total revenue, some $46.4 billion.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Promises to Bring Jobs to USA

Jack Ma Yun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alibaba Group, is seen on a monitor during the The Future of the Global Economy. Photo courtesy World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland.

In the wake of the meeting between US President-elect Donald Trump and Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, an Alibaba spokesman announced the company’s plan to incorporate and additional one million small US businesses onto its e-commerce platform.

The Chinese-based internet company, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, predicts that the plan, to be implemented over the next five years, will create about one million new US jobs as each business adds at least one employee. This is not the first-time Alibaba has suggested to bring more small US businesses into their enormous marketplace, but it is the first time specific target numbers have been suggested.

The meeting between the leaders took place at Trump Tower in New York, where the president-elect lives. Trump said the meeting was “great” and added that they would do “great things” together. Ma said Trump was “smart” and “open-minded.”

Ma said the focus of the meeting was to discuss the best ways to support small businesses, especially in Midwest America. The idea would be to introduce the products from farmers and small clothing-manufacturers to the vast Chinese market directly through Alibaba.

Alibaba has been aggressively pursuing foreign brands to set up Tsmall stores, their online platform which offers virtual store fronts and payment portals to merchants. His goal is to simplify the sales, payment and shipping process for the vast and growing Chinese shopper which Ma is relentlessly attracting to his e-commerce website.

Right now, there are about 7,000 US brands sitting on Alibaba’s Tmall, including US giants such as wholesaler Costco Wholesale Corp and clothing manufacturer Levi’s. Last year these companies made $15 billion in sales to Chinese consumers, although some foreign retailers say they have had a mixed success on Tmall.

Last month the US Trade Representative put Alibaba back on to an infamous list of blacklisted online retailers due to suspicions that the company does not do enough to end counterfeiting on their site.

Will Putin Retaliate or Not?

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to once again do the unexpected when he announced that he was not going to retaliate in response to President Obama’s move to expel 35 Russian diplomats from the United States. It seemed he only had to wait a mere three weeks or so for the bruhaha to die down when Donald Trump is sworn in as the next US president.

Now, however, there are reports that Russia is taking some steps to punish the US for its actions. Last week CNN reported that Russian authorities ordered the closing of the Anglo-American School in Moscow, siting an unnamed source who said he knew personally about the development. The school is for the children of Western embassy personnel from Britain, Canada and the USA.

The Russian foreign ministry denied the allegation.

CNN also reported that Russia ordered the closing of a vacation home used by US embassy personnel, about 16 kilometers west of Moscow.

In contradiction to earlier reports that there would be no reprisal against US diplomats in Russia, Russian spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova said that a Russian response to Obama’s actions would be similar which would “immediately backfire at US diplomats in Russia.”

“The outgoing US administration has not given up on its hope of dealing one last blow to relations with Russia, which it has already destroyed,” her statement said.

The Kremlin had previously stated that the US would “receive an answer” if it did anything to punish Russia. Obama sought to impose sanctions on Russia for its role in tampering with the recent US elections via hacking of email accounts associated with people in the Democratic Party. Several US intelligence agencies have stated the Russian actions were deliberately designed to interfere with the US elections, specifically, to help Donald Trump with the election.