Even the American Enterprise Institute thinks Trump is overstepping his authority with an emergency declaration for the wall

photo of fence at border with wall prototypes in background
REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
Trump is apparently about to summon powers he probably doesn’t have to declare an emergency that doesn’t exist to build a wall on the Mexican border.
A lot of people don’t know that Donald Trump knows almost nothing about American history, and the history of the Republican Party and the way the U.S. government works.

Actually, a lot of people do know that. I was kidding to set up the next couple of paragraphs.

I said that thing at the top because I was dredging up from memory the day in 2017 when Trump, speaking to the National Republican Congressional Committee, made a reference to Abraham Lincoln, and then riffed:

Great president. Most people don’t even know he was a Republican. Right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don’t know that. We have to build that up a little more.

Actually, the last time a national survey attempted to measure this knowledge, Pew found that a solid majority knew that Lincoln was a Republican. (In fact, he was the first Republican president. Actually, the Republican Party often refers to itself as the “Party of Lincoln.”) But Trump apparently didn’t know it, even though he is now the titular leader of the party that refers to itself that way.

I bring it up just now because I’m troubled that Trump is apparently about to summon powers he probably doesn’t have to declare an emergency that doesn’t exist to build a wall on the Mexican border. We’ll see if our system is strong and honest enough to enforce itself and prevent him from doing that.

But I was encouraged to see (and this is what set me off on this little rant) that such an established bastion of conservatism as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) put out a press release yesterday expressing considerable alarm at some combination of Trump’s ignorance of our constitutional system and the possible damage he might do as a result of said ignorance.

Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at AEI, was quoted in the press release, thusly (emphasis in original):

This [move] will forever destroy precedent for what constitutes an “emergency” under executive authority. This abuse and broadening of the interpretation means that there is no limit to what any president can now use as cover to pilfer finds from other priorities and skirting Congressional checks and balances.

The gambit simply will not work. It will be immediately challenged in court and likely stall out until adjudicated. In the meantime, however, the funds taken from Army Corps of Engineers’ projects will halt all work on whatever else was supposed to be done, likely degrading military readiness. Not to mention that the funds will have to be replaced at some point anyway thereby adding to the cost of the “emergency.”

I agree that if a president has an unenumerated implicit power to move money around within the budget simply by throwing around the word “emergency,” then the power of the purse, which the Constitution clearly assigned to the legislative branch, has been substantially transferred to the current occupant of the Oval Office. I wish I had as much confidence as Eaglen does that the courts will not allow this power grab.

It’s especially heartening that this view is emanating from AEI, a major organ of the right.

And,  just in case you think I’m making too much of one AEI fellow’s view (I probably am), I’ll mention that the same press release includes the view of AEI Research Fellow Rick Berger, who opined:

This emergency declaration is short-sighted in every way. It will hurt military readiness and disaster-ridden communities by diverting funds … that were authorized by Congress for specific purposes. More troops will have to be pulled from training against Russia, China, and terrorists to string up barbed wire on the border. It will [also] do lasting harm to the military as a whole by pitting the wall against the troops in the upcoming negotiations to avert almost $300 billion in defense cuts over the next two years.

Congress can and should act to neuter this emergency proclamation and reclaim its constitutional authority as the ultimate arbiter of American’s taxpayer dollars.

And in case you wonder whether I’m cherry picking the AEI experts who happen to agree with me, those are the only AEI experts quoted in the AEI press release.

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Comments (105)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/15/2019 - 10:22 am.

    The problem is that this Supreme Court is a Plessy v. Ferguson court, not a Brown v. Board of Education court. It will ask the piercing question, “If the American people didn’t want the policies of Donald Trump, why did they elect the electoral college that elected him?”

  2. Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 10:33 am.

    In addition to the constitutional issues, these guys – like most intelligent Republicans – don’t care about the wall. The Republicans controlled the entire government for 2 years and didn’t fund a wall. Because they don’t want it. Because they know it will accomplish precisely nothing.

    What utter nonsense.

    • Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/15/2019 - 11:29 am.

      The intellectually honest Democrats know a wall works and a wall will frustrate their political agenda.

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/15/2019 - 11:49 am.

        Intellectually honest people recognize that a 20 foot wall is climbed with a 22 foot ladder, a steel wall can be cut with a readily available acetylene torch or power saw, the highest volume of drugs come through legal ports of entry or tunnels or the US mail. Intellectually honest people would recognize that illegal crossings are far lower than decades ago and that most illegal entries are over-stays of legally obtained visas.

        If there is any confusion, please refer to Ann Coulter’s tweet.

        • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/15/2019 - 02:00 pm.

          Intellectually honest people know that walls work to keep the vast majority out. That’s why we have them around prisons, homes, power stations, etc etc.

          Very few would try carrying a 20+ foot ladder many miles across a desert to get over the wall. The point of the wall is to keep the 90+% of would be crossers from crossing. Only the most desperate would attempt to cross the wall.

          • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 02/15/2019 - 02:33 pm.

            “A wall (physical barrier) works to keep the vast majority of people out. That’s why we use them around power stations, sporting events, rallies, etc etc.”

            Bob, the southern border is none of those things. You are comparing apples and elephants. You still have to deal with the reality that the vast majority of people and contraband come through the ports of entry.

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 02:50 pm.

            Walls around prisons, power stations, etc. work. Walls across hundreds of miles of border do not. This wall will keep zero people out. It will prevent no one from getting in. It will do nothing. Which is why Republicans never passed a wall when they had a chance.

      • Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/15/2019 - 12:07 pm.

        Walls work for lots of things. So do ladders.

        What walls don’t do very well is stop asylum seekers, who apply at ports of entry. Drugs largely come through legal ports of entry. Many people who are here illegally, which is to say, without a valid visa or green card, did in fact, come here legally. The arrive legally and overstay their visa, for example. And while it is true that some people arrive by sneaking over the border in remote areas, it is not at all apparent that building a wall is the most cost-effective way to stop them. Which is why we haven’t done it & shouldn’t do it.

        • Submitted by Don Wallen on 02/17/2019 - 05:51 pm.

          I would point out that walls that work “for a while” such as the great wall of China or Hadrian’s wall, worked because they were manned by a large numbers of soldiers, not because they were impregnable. When the soldiers were withdrawn, they fell.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/15/2019 - 12:48 pm.

        I thought you conservatives were all about upholding the Constitution.

        • Submitted by chuck holtman on 02/15/2019 - 02:31 pm.

          I thought the Right was against the government confiscating the private property of tens of thousands of landowners.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 01:18 pm.

        Again, Republicans could have funded a wall and there was nothing Democrats could have done to stop it.

        Building the wall does not work. Anyone with even a tiny shred of understanding (including most Republicans) gets that. They like the wall as a political issue. They just don’t want an actual wall.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/16/2019 - 09:44 am.

        RG,as an observation, isn’t the AEI arguing that it isn’t the wall they are concerned with, its the end run around congress? Meaning, congress chose not to fund the presidents pet project, OK veto the bill. It appears , you don’t agree with congress, OK that’s fair, but you also appear to support the end run and don’t think congress should have the power of the purse? Should Trump have power of the purse over congress?

      • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/16/2019 - 12:43 pm.

        Let me enlighten you on a fact of security….

        Locks, walls, windows, doors only work to keep out people who are not really all that interested in entering.

        Even bank vaults are broken into ….because that is where the money is at…

  3. Submitted by Steve Roth on 02/15/2019 - 11:17 am.

    Unfortunately, the one conservative who should be against this, isn’t, and that’s Mitch McConnell. Though he’s never been one to put the Constitution and the country ahead of party and ridiculous ideaology. Nor has most of the GOP for that matter. History will show – its already shown, really – the sheer, historic cowardice of the President’s party to stand up to his sheer idiocy and danger to the Republic.

    • Submitted by Tom Crain on 02/15/2019 - 09:54 pm.

      McConnell is the last person I would expect to stand up against Trump’s ill-advised emergency declaration. McConnell is not an ideologue. He’s an old-school deal-cutter and string-puller. For him politics is a sport more than a calling and he knows better than most that his is now the party of Trump, not the party of Lincoln.
      After hiding throughout most of the recent shutdown- when it was only the Republican Senate that could break the impasse- he poked his head out of his shell, eyes blinking in the spotlight *squish* *squish*, just long enough to OK the recent bill and avoid another shutdown.

  4. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/15/2019 - 11:18 am.

    Ann Coulter

    No, the goal of a national emergency is for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base for 2 more years.

  5. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/15/2019 - 11:34 am.

    Assuming we get past all this, I wonder whether we can finally put to bed the notion that what we need is a businessperson to get in there & straighten government out.

    • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/16/2019 - 08:48 am.

      I agree with you. I think you are giving too much credit to Trump calling him a businessman. I suspect Trump would be incompetent at anything he would try.

    • Submitted by Mark Voorhees on 02/16/2019 - 09:21 am.

      A business person leading government because they are a business person is not valid. Our government is a service organization, not a profit center. If we want someone from business it should be an efficiency expert or quality control.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/18/2019 - 11:05 am.

        Herbert Hoover was a successful businessman; in fact, unlike certain parties we could mention, he was truly a self-made man.

        Look how well that turned out.

  6. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 02/15/2019 - 11:44 am.

    This most recent power grab is very Hitler-esque.

    The Atlantic wrote an eye-opening article recently that spells out the many dangers and perils of this newest power grab/abuse by Trump and the complicit REPs in Congress who continue to cover for him and protect him, while stomping on our Constitution and destroying life as we have all known it..

    I urge every American to read it very, very carefully. Then work together to remove this despot from office before his incessant destruction causes so much damage it is impossible to recover from it all:(


    What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency. From seizing control of the internet to declaring martial law, President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/16/2019 - 06:50 pm.

      But the Supremes will protect us! Like they did in 1942 when the Feds tried to round up American citizens and place entire families in concentration camps.

  7. Submitted by Don Casey on 02/15/2019 - 12:06 pm.

    Why would opposition by the American Enterprise Institute be a surprise to the writer? It is a conservative think tank, not a Trump campaign organization. Don’t conservatives believe in limiting the reach of the federal government? Adherence to Constitutional principles? Executive overreach — particularly to bypass Congress — certainly fails both those principles. Think Obama’s legislation by executive order on steroids. Trump is his own animal — not a true Republican and certainly not a conservative. The “surprise” would have been if AEI supported Trump’s exercise in (further) ego-boosting. It is disappointing to realize a veteran journalist doesn’t understand Trump is motivated by ego, not conservative principle.


    • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/15/2019 - 01:12 pm.

      You can’t separate our president from Conservatism. He co-opted it by means of the partisan gridlock they caused during the Obama years. I guarantee you that the vast majority of American citizens who identify as conservative can’t even define basic conservative principals. The conservatives have no ability for self-reflection like Buckley in the early 60’s.

      I find it highly ironic that any credibility can be associated with the conservatives, especially when they remininsce about the Reagan years, yet act as if the deficit is completely unrelated. I suggest they read David Stockman’s account of the matter, the purposeful creation of huge deficits. Not to mention the illegal and unconstitutional foreign policy conducted in which illegal money was raised through the sale of drugs, weapons, and human trafficking.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 01:35 pm.

      Because a lot of so-called principled conservatives have abandoned their principles during the Trump era.

    • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 02/15/2019 - 02:25 pm.

      Conservative principles? They have none. Trump IS the Republican party, if that weren’t true there would be much more opposition to him from Republicans, instead of the 89 – 90% approval rating he enjoys from ;the Party of Lincoln’

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/16/2019 - 08:32 am.

        Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!

        Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us is certainly a principle of conservatives.

        It may be the only principle they have, but it is undeniably a principle of theirs.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 02/15/2019 - 02:52 pm.

      Trump certainly is not a conservative, but nor is any Republican. I’m a conservative (protect the environment, spend wisely, conserve social capital, conserve democratic gains against autocracy) and am on the far left of the conventional political spectrum.

      On the other hand, Trump certainly is a Republican. Indeed, there is no one on earth who more completely represents what the Republican party is. The party’s principal project over the past 50 years has been to create a political base from those who can be manipulated by fear and hate to give their fealty to authoritarians. Whether or not the Republican establishment anticipated that Trump would come along and avail himself of the base they had created, he won – and continues to enjoy near-total party fealty – precisely because he is the hate- and fear-mongering authoritarian the base was created to support. And what is a party, other than its base?

      If you are a conservative, you left the Republican party years ago. If you didn’t do so, your claim to be a conservative is self-rationalization.

      • Submitted by Patrick Tice on 02/16/2019 - 08:59 am.

        The terms “conservative” and “liberal” have lost all meaning, and they tend to foster binary thinking. How about being “rational” and talking about policies and goals that are backed by facts and reason?

        • Submitted by chuck holtman on 02/17/2019 - 11:48 am.

          I’m with you, Patrick. More specifically, there’s a basic set of values enshrined in the Bill of Rights and other founding documents – concerning liberty, equal opportunity and self-government – that we take to be our guideposts. One’s argument in civic debate always should be about how the laws or policies one supports advance these values. Using facts and reason, of course.

          The problem is that a third of the citizenry, matching closely the Trump/Republican base, don’t subscribe to these values but prefer instead an authoritarian framework where liberty is yielded to a strong government that, in return, provides protection against whomever the government defines as the internal or external enemy. Looking across other societies, there is some evidence that one-third of folks generally are susceptible to this orientation.

          When there’s agreement on the underlying social values, then there can be debate based on facts and reason. But when there’s not, what is the good of facts and reason? My sound arguments for why universal health insurance advances liberty and equal opportunity don’t mean anything to someone who doesn’t think those values should guide our society.

  8. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/15/2019 - 12:16 pm.

    The GOP has lost its way. It has been coming for years, but it’s here now The GOP is totally without any governing principles. The GOP’s leadership team Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh, Fox and friends, Dobbs. Etc. How impressive is that? You don’t have to be elected or appointed to become a GOP leader. SAD! McConnell having co-equal power, via the Constitution, has ceded his power to Trump by authorizing Trump to call a national emergency for a so called emergency Trump created, the WALL. I predict McConnell won’t be running in 2020, which accounts for his reckless and cowardly behavior. Trump and McConnell have done major damage to our country.

    Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border today 2/15/19. This is all to get himself off the hook he put himself on with his stupid border wall campaign promise. His promise was the “Mexican’s will pay for the wall.” Now it has morphed to the Americans will pay for the wall. At this point what the president really is looking for is an off ramp from his stupid promise. Declaring an emergency he knows it will get challenged in the court by the Democrats, the declaration will be found illegal, but he tried, his base is happy, it is the Democrats fault and walla, pardon the pun, Trump gets out of his promise. Trumps says justification for the national emergency is based on information from “many places”, likley Hannity and the rest of the elected to nothing crew at Fox.

  9. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/15/2019 - 12:33 pm.

    And that is how a dictator want-to-be works, along with the minion followers as we evolve towards a Kakistocracy. Constitution, separation of powers, what’s that, something republicans pay lip service to but actually chose to wipe their backside with.

    • Submitted by Monique Venne on 02/15/2019 - 02:47 pm.

      This IS a Kakistocracy! Some of the evidence is the need for a special counsel who was appointed four months into Trump’s presidency, the number of people Trump appointed being investigated and/or being forced to resign because of ethical problems, and the unprecedented turnover of Cabinet secretaries in Trump’s first two years. This so-called “national emergency” only exists in Trump’s mind and the minds of his base.

  10. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 02/15/2019 - 01:02 pm.

    “Most people don’t know” and “Most people don’t understand” are the tells Trump uses when he is admitting he didn’t know or doesn’t understand. It’s only psychologically okay for him to not understand something if “most people” don’t understand it. The latest was “options that most people don’t understand” regarding the emergency powers he is invoking. This means he doesn’t understand them even after they were explained to him.

  11. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 02/15/2019 - 01:03 pm.

    The criteria for my choice of the Democratic nominee has changed. Now, I will support the candidate who pledges to go this “wall” (if any of it is ever constructed) and announce “Mr. Trump we are going to tear down this wall” and signals the bulldozers to proceed.

  12. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 02/15/2019 - 01:12 pm.

    Very little of this would or will happen without the complicity
    Of Mitch McConnell. All of these “crises” have his fingerprints on them. History will not treat him well.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/15/2019 - 01:18 pm.

      I have already sent a message to Senator Smith, urging her to bring an ethics complaint against Senator McConnell, for dereliction of his constitutional duty.

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/15/2019 - 01:59 pm.

        I also have contacted Senator Tina Smith requesting action be taken against Senator McConnell for dereliction of duty.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 01:32 pm.

      McConnell is truly loathsome and a malignancy on this country, but in this case I think he was just trying to get Trump to sign and keep the govenment open before Fox and Friends changed Trump’s mind. McConnell knows very well this will never survive the courts and was just trying to deal with Trump’s temper tantrum.

      • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 02/15/2019 - 03:01 pm.

        Doesn’t excuse SCOTUS actions, does not excuse Kavanaugh travesty, does not excuse the looting of the country by the tax bill or any of his other crimes. Or his refusing to act or comment on Russian interference in 2016. The guy is a traitor, pure and simple.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/15/2019 - 03:55 pm.

        McConnell could discover that Article I gives him, and the rest of Congress, a voice in this matter. Punting the issue to the courts is an act of extreme cowardice.

        Of course, it’s just as likely that he agrees with what Trump is doing, but doesn’t have the spine to say so. If he just shrugs it off and wonders “what are you going to do,” he thinks he can avoid the electoral damage done when the country decides to hold the Republicans responsible for the Trump regime.

        Either way, the man doesn’t have the leadership qualities we would want to see in an assistant Cub Scout leader, let alone the de facto leader of the US Senate.

  13. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 02/15/2019 - 01:18 pm.

    I suspect that along with the litigation, Congress will pass legislation deauthorizing any emergency funds with far more bipartisan support than the budget bill garnered [he writes with flagging hope], and Trump will veto it.

  14. Submitted by John Evans on 02/15/2019 - 01:33 pm.

    Think of all the things the president could devote his attention to. His wall plan is silly, wasteful and on balance, somewhat destructive. But it’s not an enormous disaster.

    Almost anything else he puts his mind to will be a disaster. It will likely cost more money, hurt more Americans and perhaps kill tens of thousands of people in some other country. Those plans are already on his agenda.

    I’m glad he’s occupied with this nonsense, for now.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/15/2019 - 02:10 pm.

      A wall (physical barrier) works to keep the vast majority of people out. That’s why we use them around power stations, sporting events, rallies, etc etc.

      Until Congress changes the immigration laws or removes the things that people come here for (jobs, welfare, drugs, etc) then we need something to stem the tide of people crossing illegally. It’s not the best or only method but it will stop a lot of those who are crossing now.

      • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/15/2019 - 02:28 pm.

        Walls don’t work. They didn’t work in Belfast, Israel and Iraq. Show me quantitative evidence walls work.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 02/15/2019 - 02:43 pm.

        You’re never going to see that wall, Bob. Trump’s history in 19 months and the plethora of lawsuits to stop this concocted “emergency” will last well past that.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 02:51 pm.

        Nope. It will keep no one out. Zero people will be kept out. It won’t do anything. Its completely pointless.

      • Submitted by Scott Walters on 02/15/2019 - 03:11 pm.

        “It’s not the best or only method.”
        Correct. It’s the stupidest method, but it has the advantage of being the most expensive method. That’s why so many Republicans are falling into line behind it. It IS the best method for writing enormous checks to contractors for a useless pile of construction materials.

        It’s important to keep in mind that Republicans love big government, because only a big government can write a big check to wealthy donors. Writing big checks is a Republican’s favorite function of government. So, to Republicans, this is a win-win-win.

        The fact that it will be 100 percent ineffectual in stopping anything is irrelevant. Outcomes don’t matter to Republicans, only checks.

        I carefully use Republicans, not conservatives. They aren’t at all the same thing.

      • Submitted by Cameron Parkhurst on 02/15/2019 - 03:51 pm.

        Tide of people? What evidence do you have a tide of people are crossing the southern border illegally? Don’t you think that if that were the case we might have seen something about it in the days leading up to the election last November? Or do you contend that there is a vast media conspiracy to keep that information from the public?

      • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/15/2019 - 04:05 pm.

        If there is a national emergency on the southern border it just didn’t just happen in the last couple of months. Prior to January, for two full years, Republicans had TOTAL unfettered control of the government, why didn’t they fund the wall then? Why, because the Republican congressional leadership DOESN’T want a wall. Why don’t they want a wall? Because they know it is a FOOLS ERRAND. This is all because Trump made a foolish campaign pledge and it has trapped him and those around him. In desperation Trump calls for a national emergency as his exit ramp. Trumps wall will never make it through the legal system. Even Trump, in todays press conference said, “He didn’t need to do this”. See, already Trump has double crossed your wall thinking that he convince you is needed. Trump is not a good news source.

      • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/15/2019 - 05:49 pm.

        It is sad to see how frightened you are Mr, Barnes, of Central American families seeking asylum, and jobs, in the United States.

        It is sad, too that you seem to have swallowed the fact-less untruths the Trumpites keep sending out, about every facet of their so-called explanation of “why we need a wall.” I don’t see any reason to it!

        I’m simply not afraid of these little kids and their moms and dads, who are doing precisely what I would do, given the horrible circumstances of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador. I would run to a safer place.

        (And, no: that LA gang, the M-13, Trump is obsessed with is not overrunning the country. You do know, right, that it’s an American-born gang?_

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/15/2019 - 07:18 pm.

        Prison walls keep people in, not out.

  15. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/15/2019 - 02:07 pm.

    Calling AEI conservative is like calling a shrub an Oak tree. That organization is full of Neocons and mostly wrote the Bush/Cheney handbook.

    Also, any President could have declared a national emergency and taken over the Internet or declared martial law etc so the claims above about that are ridiculous. In fact, there was some complaint about Obama doing just that when he was in office.

    If Congress doesn’t specify what money is to be used doe then a President can divert it. All of them have done so in the past to some degree. Trump could get money from his new trade deal to pay for it I’m sure.

    • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/15/2019 - 02:33 pm.

      It’s pretty convenient posturing for you claim separation from this conservative think tank and the dumpster fire that was the Bush administration. I suppose you’ll be using this same logic when Trump leaves office and has hardly any stretch of wall built, or legislative accomplishments as well. C’mon, you can do better than this ever expanding tautology.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 02/15/2019 - 03:11 pm.

        Have you bothered to read who is a member of AEI or their history? They were heavily involved with Bush43’s administration. Bush43 was hardly a conservative. The names on the list of AEI members is a who’s who of Neocons and big govt statists.

        Trump is no better. He had a chance to be truly great but folded like a house of cards the day he won the election. He’s now just another useful tool in a long line that has kept the status quo for decades. The US hasn’t had a good President since Eisenhower left office.

        • Submitted by Tom Christensen on 02/15/2019 - 04:21 pm.

          You have to love Republicans. Bush 43 wasn’t a Conservative, Trump isn’t a Conservative. Wrong, they ran as Republicans and they were elected by Republicans. Conservative is a name Republicans gave them selves. Today the terms Republican and/or Conservative has no meaning. You probably have heard those leaving the party they can no longer identify as a Republican. The party has become meaningless because they don’t stand for anything meaningful.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/15/2019 - 06:32 pm.

          Who was, conveniently, more liberal than any President since, Kennedy and Johnson included. It’s almost like EVERYTHING you think you know is wrong…

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 02:53 pm.

      Um, we don’t get money from Trump’s trade deal. That’s not how any of this works.

    • Submitted by David Lundeen on 02/15/2019 - 02:55 pm.

      Bob, I don’t see how you can justify this circumvention of Congress to “prevent” illegal immigration without noting the hypocrisy in the president’s actions of hiring illegal immigrants for years and years. Can you provide your thoughts on this sadistic irony?

    • Submitted by Eric House on 02/15/2019 - 03:06 pm.

      Ah, the no true Scotsman fallacy. Nice try to say that neocons (short for neo-conservatives) can’t possibly be conservative, or that Bush/Cheney somehow aren’t conservative. Or is it Trump that somehow isn’t conservative, even though he is the current leader of the “conservative” party in America? In either case, the assertion is flat out wrong.

    • Submitted by Scott Walters on 02/15/2019 - 03:14 pm.

      No real conservative would support this. A Republican might, but they aren’t conservative anymore. Trumpists do, but they aren’t conservative.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/15/2019 - 03:51 pm.

      “If Congress doesn’t specify what money is to be used doe then a President can divert it.”

      Have you ever read the Constitution? I’m thinking of Article I, Section 9: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriation made by Law . . .” The President cannot just “divert” money at will. Congress has to step in and appropriate the money.

      The Constitution still applies to the President, in case you were wondering.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/15/2019 - 05:58 pm.

      No, Mr. Barnes. The president cannot change the use of money that Congress has determined should go to this or that agency or project. Congress controls our money. Even in a true emergency, a president would have to go quickly to Congress for approval of anything he takes from appropriated money here, or there.

      Only dictators believe they have the right Trump sees to claim here, on use of our tax dollars without Congressional approval.

      Maybe we need the Constitutional lesson Trump’s autocratic foolishness is forcing on us all.

  16. Submitted by Marc Post on 02/15/2019 - 04:15 pm.

    I would like to thank the Trump Party for not thinking this thru.

    Someday, in the not too distant future, there will be a Dem POTUS. This precedent, if it stands, will be used again.

    Americans are dying because they can’t afford healthcare! It’s a national emergency! Medicare for all by POTUS decree!

    Climate change is going to kill Americans! It’s a national emergency! New Green Deal by POTUS decree!

    I can go on an on… The karma is going to be glorious.

  17. Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/15/2019 - 04:20 pm.

    “The goal of a national emergency is for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base for 2 more years.”

    – Ann Coulter

    She’s not wrong.

  18. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/15/2019 - 07:57 pm.

    Tough to believe I am writing this! I agree with Ann Coulter, ‘The Only National Emergency Is That Our President Is an Idiot’

  19. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/16/2019 - 07:58 am.

    Trump is an awful person, and poses a tactical challenge for his supporters. Ordinary awfulness can be brushed aside using a variety of talk show tested tactics. He was just joking, we are told, an odd defense for a famously humorless man.Whatever he has done, some Democrat, somewhere has done something comparable or worse. Or why are we coming down on Donald when it’s Hillary who should be locked up? But sometimes Trump goes just too far, and when that happens the strategy of choice is the tactical retreat. This happens when Trump is just too awful, when for example, he notes that Nazi’s can be nice people, or when he declares a national emergency that simply does not exist. It’s a mistake to think that these retreats represent a change in the underlying support for Trump. They do not. What they are is a strategy based on a simple understanding that media storms however severe they might be, eventually and quickly go away, leaving Trump whose one virtue is his implacability, unchanged.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/16/2019 - 09:27 am.

    Kind of interesting, I heard David Brooks on NPR last night and he was complaining about how completely un-conservative it is to usurp Congress’s power of the purse. AND he was complaining about the fact that he didn’t expect Congressional Republicans will put up much of a fight over it.

    Of course he’s right, and that just tells how far Trump has dragged the Party of Lincoln into Fascism. But he expressed another worry that may be even more revealing. If Trump can declare THIS to be a “national emergency” what’s to prevent future Democratic Presidents from declaring school shootings a national emergency? Now the “liberal” on the panel (I don’t remember his name) responded that he didn’t think THAT would happen, but I suspect he’s the same kind of liberal that still believes we’re going to bi-partisan our way out of this.

    Frankly, I think school shootings ARE a national emergency, I would not be surprised or opposed to such a declaration by a future president. Thank you Donald Trump?

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/16/2019 - 03:45 pm.

      Donald isn’t a conservative, he is a wannabe oligarch. It’s why he gets along so well with Putin.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 02/17/2019 - 11:08 am.

      Paul, I’m guessing you just weren’t thinking too hard about your wording, but of course Trump has not “dragged the Party of Lincoln into Fascism.” The Party of Lincoln has been moseying headlong into Fascism (though I would just call it authoritarianism) for the past 50 years. This has been observed over those decades by many on the left who, unlike the perspicacious Mr. Brooks (who, as one blogger puts it, is aghast to suddenly realize that the Republican party is full of Republicans), are not permitted access to the journals of polite society such as the New York Times.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/16/2019 - 09:51 am.

    Is anyone talking about whether or not this is actually an impeachable crime?

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/16/2019 - 03:52 pm.

      What is grounds for impeachment is a political question. It’s what the house is willing to support with a majority vote, and the senate with a two-thirds vote.

      In my view, the potential constitutional issue, one that would give rise to a serious consideration of impeachment would come about if Donald Trump defied a Supreme Court ruling, specifically one barring him from spending otherwise appropriated funds to build a border wall. My guess is that won’t happen, that there just isn’t a majority on the court willing to take on the risk of opposing Donald Trump. They know that if they did that, and were unable to find a way of imposing their ruling on the executive branch, the Judicial branch would cease to be an effective coequal branch of government. It would become a talking shop only, capable only of advisory rulings that the other branches would be free to ignore. And I just don’t think an institutionalist like John Roberts is willing to risk that outcome.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/16/2019 - 06:06 pm.

        I wonder if the court can hold a president in contempt and issue an arrest warrant?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/17/2019 - 02:02 pm.

          Most of the country holds Trump in contempt.
          The question is: who would serve the warrant? Who would hold the trial?

        • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/18/2019 - 05:49 am.

          The Supreme Court can do anything it wants. That’s what it means to be supreme. The issue with respect to warrants or any judicial action the court might take is whether it will be complied with and/or enforced. The court can issue a warrant, but will Trump’s Justice Department serve it? Will the court issue a warrant knowing there is a substantial possibility that it will be defied?

          We talk a lot about Marbury v. Madison, the bedrock of American constitutional jurisprudence. But what we don’t talk about is the fact that the decision was carefully drafted to avoid a confrontation with the Jefferson administration. There was nothing in the decision requiring President Jefferson to do anything allowing the decision to stand unchallenged or rejected. And once the Supreme Court established for itself, the power to declare a Congressional statute unconstitutional, it didn’t actually try that again for several generations, rather unfortunately with the Dred Scott decision.

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/16/2019 - 06:17 pm.

    Also, what if the Court issued an injunction barring the transfer of money, rather than simply declaring trump out of order? Then maybe cabinet members and other officials who follow Trumps orders could be in contempt even if POTUS is immune? And looking even further down the road, let’s say Democrats take the Senate and keep the house in 2020- could they bring Republicans who had refused to sanction Trump and support a court ruling up on ethics charges? If a president openly defies a SCOTUS order and Congress refuses to impeach, is THAT an ethics violation in the Senate?

  23. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/17/2019 - 06:56 am.

    what if the Court issued an injunction barring the transfer of money, rather than simply declaring trump out of order?

    Trump could defy it. And that’s what CJ Roberts has to consider. Can he really wage war against the president of the United States? After years of politicized rulings, does the court still have the moral and political standing to win that kind of battle?

    I simply do not believe that Republicans will impeach President Trump, the only meaningful remedy the constitution provides to deal with open violations of the constitution. And that’s why, I don’t think CJ Roberts will risk that course of action. Let’s never forget, while we have a government of laws, we have a nation of human beings. In the final analysis, all of this is up to us.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2019 - 10:27 am.

      Yes, Trump could defy a court order, but the question is can his minions defy it with as much immunity? Sure, maybe it’s hard find someone who’ll march into the White House and arrest a president, but what about lower ranking officials? Trump can’t do ANYTHING himself, he needs his government to act. And in a basic way, if executive actions are taken in contempt of a SCOTUS order, that by definition creates a criminal regime. So the actions taken would be illegal. Setting aside short term considerations that would obviously have long term implications as well. Trump could only provide cover as long as he’s in office, anyone complying with Trump’s orders would have to think beyond the next two years.

      Yeah, if we don’t want to the court to be irrelevant, we would HAVE to pursue members of the criminal regime once Trump is out of office, at the latest.

  24. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/17/2019 - 07:22 am.

    Stalin famously asked, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” I don’t know but I am pretty sure that the Pope had and has more divisions than the Supreme Court.

  25. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2019 - 10:33 am.

    I think the best option is for Congress to pass legislation prohibiting Trump’s funding. I wouldn’t imagine the initial passage would be veto proof, but a I think conservatives may be nervous enough about Trump’s gambit to muster an actual veto vote if necessary. Maybe.

    Beyond that, Trump can defy the courts, but it’s not a risk-free gambit for him or his minions.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/18/2019 - 03:49 pm.

      Trump’s support in Congress is unshakeable. Nothing will reach his desk that he does not support.

      Trump tosses “treason” around too lightly, and I don’t think that’s a good thing. But it is a good reminder that ours is a government of men and women, not of laws.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/19/2019 - 10:10 am.

        I agree it doesn’t look good, but I’m not so sure as this thing plays out that Trumps support will remain unshakable.

        Regarding Robers and the SCOTUS, it also seems to me the easiest way they avoid the big crises of credibility would be to simply refuse to hear the lower courts rulings against Trump. This “emergency” is so clearly implausible they could just pass.

  26. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/18/2019 - 10:40 am.

    And would not the criminal regime that defied the SCOTUS ALSO be a treasonous regime? In other words, would not ANYONE who were in contempt and violated the injunction be guilty of treason? And would not those people be subject to prosecution in the future? I think people in the administration might think about this if Trump orders them to defy a court order. I don’t see how this wouldn’t create a huge problem in the cabinet and send ripples through the administration.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/19/2019 - 05:35 am.

      And would not the criminal regime that defied the SCOTUS ALSO be a treasonous regime?

      No. Treason is about aid and comforting enemies.

      Everybody can be prosecuted for crimes they commit. Looking forward to the late and post Trump era the nation will be in need of healing.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/19/2019 - 08:49 am.

        I think our constitutional system have been in decline for some time. It’s just that the decline has become more noticeable. There have been lots of signs along the way. A big one, I thought, was when the senate was unable to consider a presidential nominee for the Supreme Court. It would be hard to imagine a more visible,of even tangible sign of constitutional dysfunction, undermining, perhaps fatally, the credibility and authority both of Congress and also the Supreme Court.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/19/2019 - 10:06 am.

        If Treason is about comforting and aiding enemies… isn’t raiding the defense budget for a manufactured crises aiding and comforting our enemies?

        • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/19/2019 - 12:48 pm.

          If Treason is about comforting and aiding enemies… isn’t raiding the defense budget for a manufactured crises aiding and comforting our enemies?

          First of all, we aren’t at war with anybody so we don’t have enemies. There is also a specific intent issue. The accused must have specifically intended to give aid and comfort to the enemies, not merely done things which aid our enemies and from which they take comfort. Lots of things people do may have the effect of making Putin happy.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/22/2019 - 10:01 am.

            You surprise me Mr. Foster. Surely you’re aware of the fact that we were NOT at War with the Soviet Union when the Government executed the Rosenbergs? There is no “war” requirement in the US Constitution thus leaving the designation of “enemies” entirely up to the Government. In fact I’m pretty sure that selling State or classified military secrets even to an ally like Israel could be considered treason. At any rate, we’ve had multiple arrests and prosecutions for treason over the decades despite not having been at war since 1945.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/20/2019 - 11:11 am.

        It is not clear that a sitting President can be indicted.
        The Constitution provides two remedies: impeachment, and replacement under the 25th Amendment. In either of those cases, a _former_ President could be indicted.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/20/2019 - 11:22 am.

          The “rule” that says a sitting President cannot be indicted is Justice Department policy. It’s based on the argument that indictment would be very disruptive, and interfere with his official duties.

          After he leaves office, whether after not being re-elected, or after impeachment or resignation, is another matter. Impeachment or resignation grants no immunity.

  27. Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/18/2019 - 08:41 pm.

    The course he has set for himself will be a winding on narrow slippery mountain roads with huge unfriendly beasts every inch of the way. But he will forage ahead without the proper clothing, with worn tires and leaking brake fluid. Look at his life. It is a repeat pattern. People in power who support him have the same death wish. These characters have the power they have not because they earned it but because they either took it or inherited it. Which one does not matter. Sadly this act and not the nation destroying tax plan will lead to the downfall of them all. But not before we get our collective wallets empty with this year’s taxes. In fact I wonder if the wall is a diversion for the greatest income redistribution in our history.

  28. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 02/21/2019 - 07:12 am.

    The AEI can squawk, but the SCOTUS decides what is constitutional.

    The fact is, Trump can move the lion’s share of the funds he’s using without declaring an emergency; nearly $3 billion.

    I aver, getting that last bit through a declaration is as much about putting his thumb in Chuck and Nan’s eyes as the money, but #winning doesn’t make it unconstitutional.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/21/2019 - 09:36 am.

      “I aver, getting that last bit through a declaration is as much about putting his thumb in Chuck and Nan’s eyes as the money, . . .”

      Trumpism in a nutshell. It’;s not about economic policy, it’s not about security, it’s not even about preserving the judiciary. No, Trump is President because the overriding goal is to stick it to the libs. It’s about turning one of the oldest democratic republics in the world into a venue for childish taunts and paybacks.

      Hence the tolerance for the casual racism, misogyny, and overarching corruption. The symbol of the Trump years is a giant middle finger extended at the rest of America. As long as they have a leader who is willing to validate their “F*** Your Feelings,” they’re happy.

      The irony is that these people think of themselves as patriots, who love America deeply. Kakistocracy barely begins to describe it.

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