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Reinstating Integrity


Trump’s Model First Press Conference

Donald Trump is taking office amidst a barrage of disparagement and hostility. So-called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” actually underestimates the nature of this hostility by putting a somewhat tongue-in-cheek psychiatric label on the rage and irrational break with reality that said “syndrome” actually is. This syndrome is demented and demonic as it rages in Hollywood, various press venues, and on the streets. One cannot help but recall the reaction of the Southern states when Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. Within a month after Lincoln was sworn in, the Southern states began seceding and early in his first term, Fort Sumter was fired upon from Charleston, SC harbor.

Despite this acute anti-Trump sentiment, at his first press conference since his election, Trump greeted the vehement opposition with a presentation that was rational and forthright.

It was very important that the president-elect address the issue of the relevance of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the related issues of conflicts of interest resulting from his vast worldwide business assets and dealings. Despite the campaign suggestions that the Clinton Foundation is being run as a “pay to play” influence-peddling operation, a thoughtful public has remained concerned about the influence of Trump’s worldwide business dealings on the conduct of his presidency.

At the press conference, he showed himself to be totally aboveboard and nonevasive on these issues. He brought in an incredibly well-prepared spokeswoman, Sheri Dillon, from the law firm of Morgan Lewis to present a detailed reply to his critics on this matter. She carefully explained how he would separate himself for his term(s) in office from both his physical asset management and his liquid assets. She gave a brilliant detailed exposition of how this would be accomplished. As any good attorney would do, she answered questions about other possible avenues for disconnecting himself from his business empire. Why not sell off all his assets? Why not sell his properties but not his brand? She explained this matter with a level of detail that most of the public would not even be able to follow, but in doing so was in no way patronizing.

Thousands of pages of signed documents that would allow for this separation from his business enterprises (which she pointed out is not required by law for the president or vice-president) were piled high on stage next to the podium as an optic to dramatize the extent to which the president-elect has gone to eliminate any question that he will be a servant of the people. This “wall of paper” corresponding to the wall on the border will assure all that America is being made whole by a caring new president.

Additionally, she addressed the question: is the president-elect in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution? While she asserted her law firm’s view that he was not in violation of that clause, she advanced steps Mr. Trump would be taking over and above simply defending the law firm’s interpretation of the meaning of that clause. The key is that no foreign contracts will be signed by the Trump empire while Trump is in office, and that all domestic deals will be signed off by an ethics officer, most likely Fred Fielding, an experienced specialist in ethics and constitutional law. The profits of foreign entities would be deposited in the U.S. Treasury.

As for Russian hacking of the DNC and other hackings of government agencies, he stuck to his statements that said hacking was, basically, being blown out of proportion by the press and even by the intelligence community. He did not justify the hacking and said that Vladimir Putin should not be hacking. Rather, Trump wisely continued to suggest that more perspective on this issue should be communicated by the intelligence community, but especially by the press and certain politicians (here, he may have been thinking of “hawks” John McCain and Lindsay Graham).

Hacking was not being understood in the context of the U.S. weak defenses against cyber attacks, the fact that our vulnerability was known for a long time before this election, that other violations of cyberspace that were dangerous to our security were not publicly condemned to the same degree, and that the leaking of said material to the press by people inside the intelligence community was itself a breach of the law, and a serious breach at that. Further, he noted that some of the “news” about hacking was fake news in that it did not match the facts (although he noted that he cannot talk about his fact-based meetings with intelligence personnel).  All these points needed to be factored into the big picture in order to have a proper perspective on the hacking that did take place.

Lastly, it is worth taking note of the manner in which Trump fielded the barrage of questions being launched at him, with individual reporters sometimes asking three or four questions. The relaxed and bold style of replying should have been reassuring to all watching the press conference. No more overly careful replies as we heard from Pres. George Bush and from Pres. Barack Obama. Rather, the answers conveyed openness, directness, lack of premeditation, and a sincere attempt to answer, not to evade. He was not mealy-mouthed. He frankly said that if Putin likes him, it is an asset not a liability. And he asked rhetorically, “Does anyone really think that Putin would respect the U.S. more dealing with Hillary than dealing with me?” He noted candidly that they could have waited until the 2017 ObamaCare debacle kicked in with its incredible rate increases and losses of coverage, and then blamed the Democrats. But instead he and his team will be coming out with a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare early in this term of office. The goal is not to win political points but to prevent millions of Americans from having to face the upcoming horrors that ObamaCare will present.

The entire proceeding from beginning to end, including sharp rebukes for BuzzFeed and CNN, was a breath of fresh air. It demonstrated his financial integrity, perspective on foreign affairs, and candor in dealing with the press.

[Byline E. Jeffrey Ludwig]

13 January 2017
American Thinker

See Also

Contrasting the Obama year’s perpetual self-hate ethics:
No More Hyphenated Americans, E.W. Jackson

The unbridgeable divide, Shari Goodman

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