- - Thursday, October 24, 2019

Have you been following some of the policy decisions announced by President Trump, who had to back away from them a few days later?

Earlier this month, Mr. Trump announced he would host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his swanky golf club, the Trump National Doral in Miami. But it wasn’t long before Mr. Trump came under withering criticism from Republicans who complained that he was enriching one of his businesses in open violation of the U.S. Constitution by promoting his exclusive golf club among the elite leaders of the world.

Less than a week after the president announced his decision to hold the G-7 meeting at Doral, he was caving under an avalanche of complaints, led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

He had been warned by White House advisers that the idea of using his business to host G-7 leaders “would not play well” on Capitol Hill, but Mr. Trump rejected that advice.

Close advisers told him that he would be in violation of Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause that says “no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.”



The Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act of 1966 also “enumerates several elected positions in its definition of employees “who may not accept any gift of more than minimal value without congressional approval. Such “employees” include the President and Vice President, a member of Congress, and the spouses and dependents of the same,” according to the Legal Information Institute.

Stunned by a wave of criticism, Mr. Trump backed down, after it had become clear that his move “had alienated Republicans and swiftly became part of the impeachment inquiry that threatens his presidency.”

Then there was the sweeping announcement last December when Mr. Trump said he was bringing home all of what were then over 2,000 troops in Syria.

It wasn’t long before he pulled back from that decision in the face of strong political criticism at home and abroad.

“Ultimately, about half of the force was withdrawn. His announcement early this month that all 1,000 remaining troops were leaving cleared the way for a Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria and led to charges he was abandoning Syrian Kurdish allies and capitulating to Turkey. The Kurdish forces have suffered thousands of casualties while helping beat back the Islamist State,” The Washington Post reported this week.

Mr. Trump’s decision was partially pulled back, deciding last week “to keep some troops in Syria after ordering a complete withdrawal,” The Post said.

His pull-out decision didn’t anticipate Turkey’s response, nor did it think through that it left Middle East oil fields exposed to ISIS takeover.

“It would be highly embarrassing for the U.S. for ISIS to start up oil operations again,” said David Butter, associate fellow in Middle East studies at Chatham House.

All of this is going on while the House continues holding its impeachment proceedings that includes testimony from witnesses that Mr. Trump withheld critically important security assistance from the Ukraine government after asking them to dig up damaging information on one of his rivals in the 2020 presidential election.

This information came this week in testimony from our acting U.S. Ambassador William B. Taylor for Ukraine.

In his opening testimony, Mr. Taylor said “… in August and September of this year, I became increasingly concerned that our relationship with Ukraine was being fundamentally undermined by an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making and by the withholding of vital security assistance for domestic political reasons.”

Mr. Taylor told the bipartisan House impeachment panel that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, “told me that President Trump had told him that he wants [Ukrainian] President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate” Joe Biden and his son who got a high paying job with a Ukrainian energy company.

“He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations,” Mr. Taylor testified under oath.

Stay tuned.

• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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