The left has tried to smear President Donald Trump by conjuring up countless scandals and negative labels, but it seems they now admit at least one arrow in their quiver has been rendered useless — well, sort of.
Trump’s critics have accused the president of profiting from his time in office despite the fact that he has given away his $400,000 annual salary and has lost wealth since taking office (more on that in a bit).
And when the president spoke of his hopefulness for the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19, The New York Times insinuated it was because Trump would profit off the drug through investments in the drug company that produced the medicine in a claim so bad even the left-leaning site Snopes called it “mostly false.”
Then there are the several lawsuits against Trump for supposedly violating the “emoluments” clause in the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from profiting from their time in office, that were brought because foreign dignitaries patronize hotels owned by the Trump Organization, CNN said about the D.C. lawsuit in particular.
The network’s Chris Cillizza reported on the nonscandal in July 2018, with his guest, Georgetown Law professor John Mikhail, warning that if Trump wasn’t penalized for the transgression, “future presidents might also seek to profit off the presidency.”
When the president tried to defend himself, leftists such as MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin twisted his words.
“Trump calls the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution ‘phony,'” Griffin tweeted. “‘You people with this phony Emoluments Clause.'”
Trump calls the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution “phony.”
“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause.” pic.twitter.com/Qdyrj3jDsW
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 21, 2019
What Trump actually said was that other presidents were wealthy and conducted business while in office, and that he has lost money, which would essentially negate their claim of profiting.
“They ran their businesses,” the president said in the tweeted clip. “George Washington, they say, had two desks: He had a presidential desk and a business desk.”
“I don’t think you people with this phony emoluments clause,” Trump said, cutting himself off. “And by the way, I would say that it’s cost me anywhere from 2 to 5 billion dollars to be president, and that’s OK, between what I lose and could have made.”
That context sheds light on the remark: He was calling their charge phony, which makes sense when paired with the rest of the endless false accusations lobbed at the president.
They were likely hoping for show trials that would put Trump and his company’s financial records on public display, but his adversaries have been mired in lengthy legal battles with mixed results, including at least one case dismissed and another delayed.
So now, with the coronavirus pandemic impacting the president’s earnings and net worth, Cillizza has decided to pivot to the fact that Trump has lost so much of his wealth, hoping to get under the president’s skin and switch tactics.
In an article Wednesday titled “Donald Trump is a lot less rich today than when he was elected president,” the network’s digital editor-at-large and host of the multiplatform “The Point with Chris Cillizza” gleefully reported that Trump has gone from $3.7 billion when he took office in 2016 down to $2.5 billion.
“Now, $2.5 billion is still a lot of money. Like, a LOT of money. And being one of the richest 400 people in America is pretty exclusive company,” Cillizza wrote.
“But if you don’t think that the decline in his overall wealth and his position on the Forbes 400 will irk Trump, then you don’t know Trump.”
Cillizza went on to outline all of the discrepancies in his actual wealth that sources, including Trump, have reported over the years but settled on what he thinks that number means to the president.
“Trump’s need — and it is a need — to be very, very rich — is widely regarded as one of the main reasons he has continued to be unwilling to release any of his previous tax returns, the first president in the post-Watergate era to enjoy that ignominious distinction,” Cillizza said.
“The speculation is that Trump knows that the returns would show him as considerably less rich than he has bragged about for years and, in so doing, reduce his appeal to voters who are drawn to his over-the-top money and attitude.”
So which is it–is Trump getting rich off of the presidency or lying about being wealthy?
Well, according to Cillizza, Trump relies on wealth to “prove that he is better than all the people who sneered at him and mocked him over the years.”
“In Trump’s mind, the richer he is, the more people he has proven wrong,” Cillizza continued. “Wealth equals vindication. And that’s why a decline in wealth — like he’s experience[d] this past year — will bother him so much.”
So it seems in one fell swoop, Cillizza had to trash the narrative about the president enriching himself while advancing the new approach that Trump will be very upset about his loss in wealth, despite the fact that he has said he isn’t bothered by it.
What’s curious is how the left doesn’t seem to mind those who actually have benefited from being in office, like the Obamas, who are $20 million richer since former President Barack Obama left office, or the Clintons, who have amassed over $230 million in the years since President Bill Clinton’s tenure.
There’s also 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who raked in $15.6 million in the two years after he left the vice presidency, and his son, Hunter Biden, who was paid tens of thousands of dollars per month for a post at the Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings that he likely got because of his last name.
Getting rich after serving in the office doesn’t matter to the left unless it is a Republican, but now that Trump is undeniably poorer since taking office, they don’t have a leg to stand on.
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