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Raskin Rallies Potomac Peeps against Trump Corruption

"The American people are ready and eager for us to confront the President on acts of lawlessness that are coming out of the White House on a daily basis." So said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), speaking to a group of supporters Sunday in Potomac. He was talking about his legislation defending the Emoluments Clause, the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits presidents and federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment or other thing of value from a foreign state or its representatives.

Beth Solomon
Beth Solomon

One of the first members of Congress to call for impeachment on principle, constitutional lawyer Raskin drew a large crowd hosted by Joyce and Philip Schneider, a prominent spine surgeon in Chevy Chase, to generate support for Democrats nationwide.

Before this week's head-spinning news cycle involving Ukraine, Raskin was adamant that the payments President Trump has received through his businesses are a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"I did a complete study of every single request by a U.S. president for approval of an emolument," Raskin said. "Abraham Lincoln...took the time to send to Congress these two big elephant tusks that he received from the King of Siam. They were like his prize possessions. He really wanted to keep them. The House of Representatives looked at it and said, 'Sorry Mr. President, you're doing a great job in the War and everything, but you can't keep the tusks. Turn them over to the Dept. of Interior.'"

Beth Solomon
Beth Solomon

"President Andrew a gold medallion from Simon Bolivar, who was then the prime minister of Venezuela. He loved it. And he said, 'Can I keep it? It won't affect how I treat Bolivar or Venezuela.' Congress said 'No. You can't. Turn it over to the Dept. of State,'" Raskin continued.

Before Trump, "Every other president has respected the rule in the Constitution that you can't take this," Raskin, a graduate of Georgetown Day School and Harvard, said. "The framers wanted the president's loyalties to run in a complete and undivided way to the American people. Not to deputies from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, not to people bearing presents from the dictator of the Philippines, not to people who are doing business with the hotel."

"The American people," he continued, "that's the whole idea. This president has collected millions of dollars -- millions of dollars -- without once coming to the Congress of the United States. He's got business transactions with 500 businesses...real estate deals, selling the use of his image, selling the use of his name, the golf courses, Mar a Lago, the hotels around the country, and of course -- the headquarters of all the corruption, the Trump Hotel in Washington -- which I call "The Washington Emolument."

"So our resolution, which now has 160 cosponsors, will say, 'Mr. President, we are aware of these various payments. You must give us a complete accounting of all payments you've gotten from princes and kings and foreign governments...and we disapprove of the ones we know of. And please write a check for the ones you have received to the U.S. Treasury, with interest, from the point you received them, like every U.S. president has done."

When Raskin's young daughter asked him what he thought of the Women's March in 2017, he said he was completely inspired by it, but when pressed by her, pointed out that there were no chants about the Emoluments Clause.

She said, "Dad, nothing rhymes with the Emoluments Clause."

Raskin took it as a challenge. His answer?

"Stop Trump, Stop Pence! Impeach them for Emol-u-ments!"