Nets Hype Dems Suing Trump, Helped Hillary Dodge Corruption Charges

On Monday, the network morning shows breathlessly hailed the latest partisan Democratic effort to attack President Trump, resurrecting a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating a clause in the Constitution because of his business interests. Such charges were hyped by the same media that excused the Clinton Foundation scandal that swirled around Hillary Clinton.

At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed: “Headed to court? Two attorneys general now say they will file a lawsuit against President Trump, reportedly accusing him of profiting from being president.” Minutes later, she told viewers: “Two attorneys general saying they are planning to sue President Trump and accuse him of violating anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. That lawsuit reportedly set to focus on alleged payments to Trump businesses from foreign governments.”

What Guthrie, a former lawyer, failed to explain was that those “payments” were in the form of foreign officials staying in Trump hotels or hosting events at Trump properties. It wasn’t as if they were donating millions to a family charity in hopes of currying favor, as they did in the case of Hillary Clinton.

In fact, there was a strong case to be made that the former Secretary of State violated the Emoluments Clause. Even The Washington Post – which was the first to report on the Trump lawsuit – wondered in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign whether the Consitutional issue was “a problem for Hillary Clinton.”

Instead of actually holding Clinton accountable, the networks helped her campaign knock down accusations of corruption.

To NBC’s credit, correspondent Peter Alexander at least identified the lawsuit against Trump as a Democrat-led effort:

That new lawsuit to be announced today accuses the President of violating the Constitution by accepting gifts from foreign governments without the okay of Congress. Just the latest move by Democrat attorneys general to challenge the President and his policies....the attorneys general of Washington D.C. and Maryland, two Democrats, are slated to announce a major lawsuit against the President as early as this afternoon...

Neither ABC nor CBS bothered to point out the party affiliation of the public officials bringing the suit.

Leading off ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: “Overnight, President Trump’s family joins him in the White House as he faces a new lawsuit over his global business empire that takes millions in payments from foreign governments.”

In a later report, White House Correspondent Jon Karl sensationalized:

...the President faces a new lawsuit this morning that is unprecedented in American history. Overnight, the D.C. attorney general’s office confirmed to ABC News that D.C. and Maryland will sue President Trump today, alleging a breach of anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution....It’s the first time a state government has filed such a lawsuit against a president.

Talking to former federal special counsel Ken Starr in a segment that followed, Stephanopoulos eagerly wondered: “They say it’s a violation of the Emoluments Clause. How serious a threat is this to President Trump?” Starr replied: “You’ve got to take any litigation seriously, but allegations are allegations. Now, in my 40 years of practicing law, I’ve seen a lot of allegations that have blown up in smoke.”

In a news brief for CBS This Morning, co-host Gayle King touted: “The President faces a new challenge this morning over the Trump organization ties to other countries. CBS News has confirmed the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia will file a lawsuit today.” Fellow co-host Charlie Rose chimed in: “They claim President Trump violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution when the businesses he owns accepted millions in payments from foreign governments.”

Here are excerpts of the coverage on all three morning shows:

Today
7:03 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: President Trump facing some new heat possibly as well this morning. Another busy week getting under way in Washington, so let’s walk you through some of what’s gonna happen. Two attorneys general saying they are planning to sue President Trump and accuse him of violating anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. That lawsuit reportedly set to focus on alleged payments to Trump businesses from foreign governments.

(...)

7:04 AM ET

PETER ALEXANDER: That new lawsuit to be announced today accuses the President of violating the Constitution by accepting gifts from foreign governments without the okay of Congress. Just the latest move by Democrat attorneys general to challenge the President and his policies.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Attorneys General to Sue Trump; DC & Maryland AG’s Allege Breach of Constitutional Oath]

This morning, the President is facing new legal trouble, this time not related to Russia. The Washington Post reporting that the attorneys general of Washington D.C. and Maryland, two Democrats, are slated to announce a major lawsuit against the President as early as this afternoon, alleging that he violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House. Essentially breaking his promise to keep his private business interests separate from his public role as president.

(...)

8:02 AM ET

KRISTEN WELKER: President Trump may be facing yet another controversy, this time, according to The Washington Post, the attorney generals of Washington D.C. and Maryland, both Democrats, are expected to announce a major lawsuit against the President as early as today. The suit alleges that the President violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions of dollars in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House.

(...)


GMA
7:03 AM ET

(...)

JON KARL: And on top of all that, the President faces a new lawsuit this morning that is unprecedented in American history.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Faces New Lawsuit; D.C. & Maryland to Sue Over Foreign Payments]

Overnight, the D.C. attorney general’s office confirmed to ABC News that D.C. and Maryland will sue President Trump today, alleging a breach of anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution. In the lawsuit, which was first reported by The Washington Post, the attorneys general allege the President “has broken his promises to separate his public duties from his private businesses.” It’s the first time a state government has filed such a lawsuit against a president.

(...)

7:10 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, we have this lawsuit this morning from the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C. about those foreign payments to the President’s corporation. They say it’s a violation of the Emoluments Clause. How serious a threat is this to President Trump?

KEN STARR: You’ve got to take any litigation seriously, but allegations are allegations. Now, in my 40 years of practicing law, I’ve seen a lot of allegations that have blown up in smoke.

(...)

8:02 AM ET

AMY ROBACH: And the big story this morning, President Trump facing a new legal battle. The attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland are filing a lawsuit over his business dealings.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Face ‘Corruption’ Lawsuit; Foreign Payments in the Spotlight]

They’re accusing the President of violating anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by not separating himself from his companies. The suit, first reported by The Washington Post, claims the President accepted millions of dollars in payments and benefits from foreign governments since taking office.        

(...)

 
CBS This Morning
7:30 AM ET

GAYLE KING: The President faces a new challenge this morning over the Trump organization ties to other countries. CBS News has confirmed the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia will file a lawsuit today.

CHARLIE ROSE: They claim President Trump violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution when the businesses he owns accepted millions in payments from foreign governments. So far, the White House has not replied to our request for comment.

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