“Follow the money” is a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 drama-documentary motion picture All the President’s Men. The phrase suggests that political corruption can be brought to light by examining money transfers between parties. In the film, screenwriter William Goldman attributed the phrase to Deep Throat, the informant who took part in revealing the Watergate scandal. However, the phrase is mentioned neither in the non-fiction book that preceded the film, nor in any documentation of the scandal. Nonetheless, the urban legend has taken on a life of its own because it is so close to reality. Indeed, I think that this is the key to the present chaos in Syria. Certainly, the Hebrew word fashla would be a great summation, that is, at total screw-up by incompetents.
Back to the future to a new Nixon (Donald Trump) who not only engages in personal and political corruption, but is openly hustling the US presidency to make money in open defiance of the US Constitution Emoluments Clause that forbids him from making money outside of his salary. Indeed, even for a US government employee to bring it up in conversation with an influential person is a crime in and of itself.
The present sell out of the Kurds could make the Ukraine based impeachment bid by Nancy Pelosi into proverbial small potatoes if the fiduciary trail is considered. In a recent YNET Op-ed piece by Shimrit Meir, the author suggests that Trump has lost his mind for turning on the Kurds. My immediate retort as a historian would be to note that while the present president may make Ronald Reagan look like a genius, he definitely knows where his wallet is. I would suggest she references a recent NBC report on Trump’s business connections in Turkey. It seems Erdogan may be referencing that old Capital One commercial by asking “what’s in your wallet?”
While Donald Trump has violated the Emoluments Clause thousands of times in the last two and half years of his presidency, this is probably the most publicly flagrant. Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution prohibits members of the US government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states and monarchies without the consent of the United States Congress:
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
The clause is subject to interpretation and the Trump Justice Department has used insanely narrow interpretations of it to get around the clause to give countries leeway to curry favor with the president via commercial deals. However, the founding fathers worded the clause specifically. It was designed to shield the federal officeholders of the United States against so-called “corrupting foreign influences.” Unfortunately for Trump, impeachment by the US House of Representatives and a trial in front of the Senate are not judicial procedures and can be done with a sitting president.
But what does all of this mean for Israel? In my previous op-ed, I noted that perhaps Israel should not put all of its eggs in one basket. In addition to Iran, Turkey has not exactly been friendly to Israel in this century. I think it may be time to examine how stable the relationship is with an openly US president who is now in bed with one of Israel’s stated enemies.