The Trump Constitutional Emergency – Day 55


Been awhile since I’ve written about the ongoing Trump constitutional emergency. Not that things have been quiet, but they have been consistent. Last time I wrote about the emergency was before Barr turned over the redacted version of the Mueller Report. Now the full report remains under lock and key, but the world has seen and read a major portion of the Report, which has resulted in a sustained, though not yet triumphant, push for impeachment hearings in the House, backed by the opinions of now over 800 former Federal prosecutors who say they would have indicted Trump on the basis of the Mueller Report, were he not protected as President from criminal indictment.

I have to say I’m surprised by the Trump Administration’s tactics up to now. I was sure the current stonewalling of Congressional oversight was going to start with the Mueller Report itself. Why release it at all if what you are going to do right after is totally obstruct Congressional oversight? Why not start the stonewalling with the Report itself? It makes no sense to me that the Administration would willingly turn over evidence of up to 10 instances of obstruction, and some very nefarious facts regarding collusion, and only THEN start to deny Congress anything they ask for. Anyone with a theory as to why the Trump Team has cackhandly fumbled the Mueller Report roll-out so badly please elucidate in the comments.

I’m gobsmacked by how amateurish has been the handling of the Miller Report. First, they give Congress a roadmap to impeachment, and ONLY THEN do they begin to obstruct Congressional oversight to such an extent that it may in itself be impeachable? How does that make any sense? Why not try to keep the report secret? If you are going to antagonize Congress with stonewalling tactics anyway, why not start with the Mueller Report? Anyone who says the Trump Admin has a deft tactical touch is a moron. Trump really does need a Roy Cohn level of legal knife-fighter; William Barr has proven less than effective, even as he has completely abandoned all regard for his own professional reputation.

So now the battle moves to the Courts to determine, absurdly, whether Congress has the power to investigate the President. Trump is going to lose that battle, but the real question is, will he tell the Courts to pound sand along with the Congress? If so, he will have ratcheted up the crisis yet another notch and we are truly in uncharted Constitutional territory. Never has a President challenged the Congress’ and Courts’ status as co-equal branches as nakedly as Trump.

He richly deserves impeachment at this point. As Robert Reich points out:

By issuing a blanket refusal to respond to any congressional subpoena, Trump is saying Congress has no constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch. He’s telling America that Congress is a subordinate branch of government rather than a co-equal branch. Forget separation of powers.

By spending money on his “wall” that Congress explicitly refused to authorize, Trump is saying that Congress no longer has any constitutional authority over spending. Goodbye, checks and balances.

By unilaterally shuttering the government in order to get his way, Trump has said he has the constitutional right not to execute the laws whenever it suits him. Farewell, Congress.

By directing the attorney general, the Justice Department, the FBI and the Secretary of the Treasury to act in his own personal interest rather than in the interests of the American people, Trump is saying that a president can run the government on his own. Adios, Constitution.

By unilaterally threatening to cut off trade with the second-largest economy in the world, Trump is saying he has sole authority to endanger the entire American economy. (Make no mistake: If he goes through with his threat, the U.S. economy will go into a tailspin.)

By doing whatever he could to stop an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including firing the head of the FBI, Trump has told America it’s OK for a president to obstruct justice. Goodbye, law.

The core purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to prevent tyranny. That’s why the framers of the Constitution distributed power among the president, Congress and the judiciary. That’s why each of the three branches was designed to limit the powers of the other two.

Trump is a threat to the Constitutional order as long as he remains in office: his offenses against the Constitution will not end, but only grow bolder. If he wins a second term, we are all truly fucked.

I suspect that Trump is planning to wag the dog in a major way by provoking armed conflict with Iran in order to enter the 2020 race as a war President. I am convinced he will try to wage war alone, without the support or consent of Congress, further damaging the Constitutional order.