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a blog on banking, corporate governance, and financial market reform.

December 11, 2016

the #divestdonald movement

Inspired by a bipartisan group of legal ethicists and Constitutional scholars including Kathleen Clark, Norm Eisen, Richard Painter, Stephen Schooner, Zephyr Teachout, and Laurence Tribe, on November 20, 2016, I launched the hashtag #DivestDonald. In the morning I informed friends on Facebook that I planned to use it later that day on Twitter. A few headed over first.

This simple phrase, #divestdonald, is designed to draw public attention to how Donald Trump is poised to violate the Constitution on day one of his presidency. In particular, the foreign Emoluments Clause, found in  Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution forbids a President from taking any payment from a foreign government or official unless Congress first approves. This would include payments for hotel rooms and licensing fees. It would also include any of the joint ventures Trump’s operations have with foreign governments. Because he is either the sole or principal owner of his numerous global businesses, when he operates them he is in direct violation.

This is a case of both monumental corruption and historical significance.  When a President takes the oath of office, he solemnly swears to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of  [his] ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Yet, Trump would be defying the Constitution. For more details, please read this bipartisan letter, sent to Donald Trump on December 9, 2016.

Quite quickly following the November 20th launch, many adopted the hashtag. For example, on November 21, Larry Tribe tweeted: #divestdonald is a constitutional mandate not just of the Emoluments Clause but also of the Faithfully Execute Clause.

What follows is a Facebook post from December 7, 2016. That was Day 29 following the Presidential election. I have been maintaining the habit of writing a status each day with inspiration and calls to action. This will last at least until January 20, 2021, which will be Day 1,534.

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Day 29: Are you wondering how I find joyful purpose in #DivestDonald. What is the endgame. How do we measure success? Should we feel defeated when Trump takes office and continues to help his family profit off the presidency. When he continues to be a walking, talking violation of the Constitution? Here are my answers to those questions.

The endgame: I believe #DivestDonald it’s not a game, it’s a marketing message and a political movement.

By using it every day, we brand Trump as the monumentally corrupt person he is. It reminds us that he is our crony capitalist in chief. The words #DivestDonald are a constitutional imperative and a demand for what he needs to do with his business.

The hashtag #DivestDonald has another meaning too. It signifies that We the People need to divest of him as president and put someone better in office.

The Better Vision: When America finally divests of Donald. What will we get? We must begin to shape that now. For me, this vision involves five key things.

Shared prosperity & a living wage
Equal rights and dignity
Debt-free higher education
Healthcare through single-payer
Banking that is not too big to fail

To realize this vision, I believe we must #DivestDonald who plans to privatize the gains and socialize the losses in these key areas. He wishes to reward himself, his family, and his cronies.

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In the wake of the financial meltdown in 2008, there were many who claimed it had been inevitable, that “no one saw it coming,” and that subprime borrowers were to blame.