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  Trump’s Moscow Deal Is Exactly What the Framers Worried About
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Last EditedRP  Dec 04, 2018 01:58pm
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News DateMonday, December 3, 2018 07:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionAs a former FBI agent and lawyer, I sympathize with the temptation to find the statute that will crack open this case. But what matters most here is not found in a criminal law text. It’s a 230-year-old document in the National Archives. Cohen’s guilty plea on Thursday demonstrates that Trump’s behavior is fundamentally incompatible with the vision of government expressed by the Constitution itself. To wit, Trump not only believes it’s OK to profit from the presidency, but he’s also willing to put the U.S. under a foreign adversary’s thumb to do it.

Candidate Trump’s secret attempt to enrich himself through a business deal with a hostile foreign adversary is the embodiment of the twin evils the Constitution seeks to prevent. That the deal didn’t materialize is immaterial from a constitutional point of view: They may still have influenced Trump’s weirdly favorable view of Russia, or the inexplicable change in the Republican Party platform on Ukraine. And by keeping it secret, President Vladimir Putin’s ability to expose Trump, at any time, gave the Russian government leverage over the highest public office in the country even after the deal fizzled out. Even if Trump began these negotiations while he was a private citizen, its impact on our relations with Russia has continued into the presidency—making it a matter of public concern that required transparency from the outset.
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