Monetizing the Oval Office

Overtaken by The Donald’s weird tweet that smart missile’s are headed to Syria, so Russia had better LOOK OUT!, this story in yesterday’s business section of the New York Times is a hair-raising example of misuse of the presidency and, all by itself, probably constitutes an abuse of power and ground for impeachment.

Trump Company Lawyers Asked Panama President for Help in Hotel Dispute

Lawyers representing the Trump Organization in a bitter dispute over management control of a luxury hotel in Panama City appealed directly to President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama to intercede.

In the March 22 letter, the Panamanian law firm Britton and Iglesias told Mr. Varela that it was writing “to request in an URGENT manner” his intervention in the clash involving the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

The letter acknowledged the “separation of powers” in Panama but cautioned the president that the matter “has repercussions for the Panamanian state, which is your responsibility.”

The gist of the story is this: Trump’s organization had a contract to manage the operation of a hotel in Panama. The property changed hands, and the new owner decided to terminate the contract with Trump, the Trump organization resisted, and the dispute went to court.

So far, so good; happens every day.

But then, though the dispute was already in Panama’s courts, the Trump organization’s lawyers asked the president of Panama to intervene in the dispute, saying the case “has repercussions for the Panamanian state, which is your responsibility.”

Oh? The management of a hotel has “repercussions for the Panamanian state”? Only if the head of the American government proposes to link America’s relationship with Panama to the outcome of the court case.

Now, I guess we can’t rule out the possibility that the Trump organization’s lawyers freelanced the threat, but I’m skeptical; I don’t doubt that the sleazy characters around Trump are comfortable threatening strippers, but that kind of coward doesn’t ordinarily take on heads of state. I can much more easily believe they were given direction by the Trump organization to try to leverage the presidency in an attempt to somehow short-circuit the operation of the court. To his credit, the President of Panama ignored Trump’s lawyers.

Let’s all hope that Mueller’s team noticed the story.

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