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Noah Feldman

Mar-a-Lago Ad Belongs in Impeachment File

Using a government website to promote private business is one piece of evidence in a corruption case.
A marketer's dream.

A marketer's dream.

Photographer: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

What did the president know about the Mar-a-Lago advertisement that appeared for a time on official government websites? And when did he know it? These questions might sound trivial. They aren’t. The webpage about President Donald Trump’s private club, which had all the features of a marketer-drafted puff piece, is a prime example of corruption, namely the knowing use of government means to enhance the private wealth of the president. And corruption is the classic example of a high crime or misdemeanor under the impeachment clause of the Constitution.

To be very clear, it doesn’t matter whether advertising Trump’s for-profit, members-only club using government property is a “crime” under federal law. “High crimes and misdemeanors” aren’t the same as statutory violations. That phrase refers to the misuse of government authority to contradict and undermine democracy and the rule of law.