- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2017

Local communities, eager to show their solidarity with the national “resistance” movement opposing President Trump, are taking up resolutions demanding Congress pursue impeachment against the new chief executive.

The latest to move against Mr. Trump is Brookline, Massachusetts, which will take up an impeachment resolution Tuesday, saying the president has run afoul of the Constitution because he hasn’t divested of all of his international money-making enterprises, putting him afoul of the Emoluments Clause.

“Therefore, the Town of Brookline resolves to call upon the United States House of Representatives to support a resolution authorizing and directing the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States,” the resolution reads.

The Boston suburb is just one liberal enclave to take a stand, following cities and towns in Vermont, California and Massachusetts.

Flare-ups over the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign officials’ dealings with Russia — and Mr. Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey — might add to the complaints, but the Emoluments Clause is the major target of the localities.

Analysts, though, say the claim is bogus.

“These are people that probably don’t in any other circumstance think the Constitution is worth any serious consideration, and yet they are the first willing to jump on an absurd reach in the Constitution to make their political point,” said Matt Spalding, who for years edited The Heritage Foundation’s guide to the Constitution.

Now associate vice president and dean of educational programs for Hillsdale College’s Washington office, Mr. Spalding said the same people targeting Mr. Trump didn’t object when President Obama received $1.4 million for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, given by the Norwegian-backed Nobel Committee in the presence of the king and queen of Norway.

Mr. Obama donated his winnings to a series of charities.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has struck an arrangement to siphon any money that foreign governments spend at his hotels to the U.S. Treasury.

Inspired by the gift from French King Louis XVI to ambassador Benjamin Franklin of a portrait of the monarch set in 408 diamonds, the clause was meant to stop gifts, not the sorts of streams of income that are going into Mr. Trump’s businesses, Mr. Spalding said.

“This kind of stuff — whether it is on the right or left — is what gives serious constitutional thinking a bad name,” he said.

Whatever the case, the petitioners behind the Brookline resolution — Lisa Kolarik and Alexandra Borns-Weil — maintain that the impeachment movement is gaining steam.

“These resolutions can help build public support for impeachment and make representatives understand that their constituents favor starting the impeachment process,” they said in the explanation filed with their resolution. “There is plenty of evidence now to impeach President Trump for violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution. It is our duty as citizens to make sure that the Constitution is enforced.”

The local push started in February in the San Francisco Bay Area when the Richmond City Council unanimously adopted a resolution asking the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether sufficient grounds existed to impeach Mr. Trump over violations related to the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution.

Gayle McLaughlin, the council member leading the charge, told her colleagues that effort was part of a broader battle against Mr. Trump and efforts to shield their city from his vow to crack down on sanctuary cities.

“Many, many of our residents and many residents nationwide have called on Congress to investigate the potential of impeaching President Trump for many violations that is believed are unconstitutional,” she said. “This is our voice, this is our country. We have a right to speak up.”

Elected officials have hopped on the bandwagon in Charlotte, Vermont; in Los Angeles, Berkeley and Alameda, California; and in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern brushed off criticisms that these kinds of votes are just left-wing enclaves engaging in symbolic pandering to their residents rather than actual governing.

“As far as the concern that this is not City Council business, I cannot think of anything more important than a local government standing up for the rights of people that live in their city and live in the rest of the country,” he said before the municipal vote last month.

“This is a constitutional matter, and if other cities and towns look at Cambridge and say, ‘This is just Cambridge being Cambridge,’ I say, ‘Thank you,’” he concluded.

Also on the agenda at that meeting was a change to the city’s pet store ordinance. Council members ended up delaying that decision after realizing they had left arachnids out of the proposed rules.

In Brookline, the Tuesday agenda includes impeachment and a resolution asking the city to “uphold and adhere to the Paris agreement on climate change.”

Local demand for impeachment isn’t new.

Takoma Park, Maryland, long known as one of the country’s most liberal places, was one of at least 80 jurisdictions demanding impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The council voted unanimously in 2007 to press the issue, saying Mr. Bush misled the country into war and overstepped the boundaries of executive branch powers.

Last year, lawmakers in the Oklahoma Legislature tried to spark an impeachment debate over Mr. Obama, arguing that he earned the punishment for forcing schools to let transgender students use whatever bathroom they wish.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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