Saturday, October 26, 2019

A Future For the Trump International Hotel

News services report that the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. is up for sale.  Given this property's notoriety, as the venue for alleged Constitutionally-violative emoluments paid to President Trump, its future as a hotel could be in doubt.  Who would pay full market price for a hotel with a clouded reputation?  Anyone who did might come under investigation for giving President Trump an alleged Constitutionally violate emolument--or worse.  The penalties for bribery of a federal official are stiff.  So the Trump International isn't likely to command a high price.

But not all is lost.  Many commercial buildings are being converted to multiple use.  What once were malls, office buildings and other single use buildings find new lives as real estate jacks-of-all-trades.  Multiple use doesn't solve the emoluments/bribery problem--there could still be issues if the buyer really meant to buy political capital and not just a building.  But the identity of the buyer might resolve these concerns.  Consider the following.

Organize a crowd funded investment trust, with members of the progressive movement as trustees, that would be funded by rage donations. The trust would buy the hotel and convert it to multiple use.  The building could have a fitness studio--called Colin K's--where members would practice kneeling to the national anthem.  It could have a restaurant that served steak with anything except ketchup.  It could have a film studio, where actors appearing to be coarse, lecherous older men with orange hair would be filmed in videos with much younger women called "Naked and Afraid in the Business World."  It could have an immigrant orientation center, where classes in English as a second language would be offered, a family re-unification center called Encontremos Los Desapareciditos ("Find the Disappeared Little Ones") would operate, and immigrants would be given clear, clean spring water to drink.  It could have a travel agency that would arrange travel to Cuba and to countries that President Trump had in mind when he referred to "shithole countries."  It could have a Kurdish Liaison Office (the functional equivalent of an informal Kurdish embassy).  And last, but certainly not least, it could have an Amazon physical store, which would be a success because it would no doubt be a Trump-free zone.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

President Trump's Failure to Cooperate in the Impeachment Inquiry Can Be Used Against Him

President Trump has taken a broad, unprecedented position against the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry of his attempts to secure Ukrainian assistance in undermining the Democrats in the 2020 election and other matters.  He is refusing to cooperate in any way whatsoever, and is ordering at least some witnesses not to cooperate.  By stonewalling the House, he appears to hope to stall and delay the inquiry until it loses steam and, perhaps, popular support.

However, his choice not to cooperate can be used against him.  The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that when a person asserts their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, a court can draw an adverse inference from the assertion of the right.  See Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 320 (1976).  This can only be done in civil proceedings, not in a criminal prosecution.  But an impeachment proceeding isn't a criminal proceeding.  It is a civil proceeding, where the worst case consequence is removal from office.  There is no prison time, no fine, no probation, and no public service.  The President's silence can be viewed by the House during impeachment proceedings, and by the Senate during the trial on the articles of impeachment, as evidence that the President engaged in high crimes and/or misdemeanors.  The adverse inference, if taken, would be added to the other evidence that the House accumulates and the entirety of the evidence (including the adverse inference) could constitute the evidentiary basis for impeachment and conviction.