Scandals surrounding President Donald Trump come and go so swiftly that it's easy for one to get lost — especially one that's prematurely headed off, like Trump's announcement he would host the 2020 G-7 summit at his own Miami golf resort, before scuttling the plan under fire last week.
Though this particular scandal was shut down early, its lesson is important: It was a rare pushback from congressional Republicans that caused Trump to back down from this blatant abuse of his office. Imagine if the GOP imposed that kind of responsible oversight of the president on other issues.
Trump first said in August he was considering the Trump National Doral golf resort to host the Group of Seven international summit, whose next meeting will by hosted by the U.S. in 2020. By hosting the high-profile, publicly funded event at his own resort, Democrats correctly noted, Trump would profit from the presidency in plain violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause.
Trump pressed ahead anyway, confident that Republicans would stand by him, according to a New York Times report. He had every reason to believe the GOP would back him, or at least look the other way because, after all, they have consistently supported him in the face of his many previous outrages.
This time was different, though. Maybe Republicans were still reeling from Trump's impetuous decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, allowing Turkey to invade and lay siege to America's Kurdish allies. Maybe it was Trump's clear quid-pro-quo demand that Ukraine's government investigate his political rival if it wanted military aid that Congress had already approved, spawning thoroughly appropriate House impeachment proceedings.
Republicans are finally saying enough. House Republicans joined Democrats in condemning Trump's Syria withdrawal, then drew the line when faced with having to defend his G-7 stunt, which would have pumped millions of dollars into Trump's company and placed a global spotlight on his own commercial property. After a majority of key Republicans meeting at Camp David made clear they wouldn't defend this, Trump canceled it by tweet, blaming "Media & Democrat Crazed Irrational Hostility." Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney later explained that the decision came because "people think it looks lousy."
Both comments show Trump and his minions still don't get it: His continued treatment of the presidency as if it's the marketing department for his businesses doesn't just "look lousy," it is lousy, not to mention unconstitutional. Pointing that out isn't "irrational;" it's a duty of Congress.
Now that congressional Republicans have discovered what foreign autocrats had already figured out — that our blustery president will fold like a cheap lawn chair when confronted with a little resistance — perhaps they can start doing their duty and reining in the rogue White House.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
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