April 1, 2017; Slate
“Americans deserve a president of undivided loyalty. Your firm has denied them that. We cannot be complicit in that.”
Scott Wallace is the co-chair of the D.C.-based Wallace Global Fund, and the author of a March 28th termination letter to a law firm representing that foundation—the same firm that helped Donald Trump create a trust to enable his sons to manage his business interests while in office.
Wallace calls the trust a “fig leaf” arrangement designed to enable self-dealing. “It is painfully obvious,” he writes to the firm’s chair, Jami McKeon, “that Trump is using his office for financial gain. And Morgan Lewis is enabling and legitimizing this.”
So, writes Wallace, the foundation can no longer use the services of Morgan Lewis—also called Morgan, Lewis & Bockius—because the firm has facilitated “ethical carnage” (detailed in the letter) and that does not jibe with the foundation’s intention to promote open and accountable governance.
The sham “trust” arrangement which Morgan Lewis has blessed—enabling unchecked self-dealing, flouting of the Constitution, and concealment of the truth from the public that President Trump has sworn to serve—is fundamentally inconsistent with (the fund’s) values and, we fear, destructive to the fabric of our democracy.
The letter is quite explicitly critical of the legal advice (or legitimization of a “complete non-solution”) given to Trump by Morgan Lewis partner Sherri Dillon.
We believe that the legal advice given to him by your partner is not just simplistic and ill-founded, but that it empowers and even encourages impeachable offenses and undetectable financial conflicts of interest by America’s highest official, and thus is an unprecedented invitation to corruption and assault on our democracy.
The letter goes on to list ways in which Trump’s continuing conflicts of interest and self-dealing violate the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause and characterizes the trust managed by Trump’s sons as “an illusion of protection against the President using his office for personal gain.” Finally, it suggests that the firm “think about larger principles than simple zealous representation of a client.”
Dahlia Lithwick concludes her article in Slate with, “Sometimes just calling corruption ‘corruption’ is enough to refocus the mind.” This simple letter reminds us how dramatically our conception of what is normal has been redefined in recent months.—Ruth McCambridge