“In the first 48 hours after this attack, what did we hear? Well, we heard it was for an imminent attack. Then we heard, no, no, it was to prevent any kind of future attack. Then we heard from the vice president himself, no, it was related to 9/11. And then we heard from press reports of people in the intelligence community saying that the threat was overblown.” Elizabeth Warren.
Our wars start with lies. This one is no exception.
This is not hyberbole. It’s part of a dark alchemy that those in power use – to transform the base metal of fear into hate, hate into “patriotism”,”patriotism” into war, war into money, and at the end… into gold – a small star to mark the sacrifice of a son or a daughter, a husband or a wife.
2003’s version: Colin Powell now calls his lie something that will “always be a part of my record” when he deliberately fabricated “evidence” of “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD) and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false. As of June 2016, his lie has caused the deaths of 4,424 soldiers and 31,952 wounded in action (WIA) and the extinction of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
2020 version: After a number of literally false starts, Mike Pence is having his own Colin Powell moment, trying to link Iran to Al Queda and 9/11, to justify both the assassination of General Suleimani, (there’s no connection, according to actual experts) and to legally engage in war. Because if they can make us believe their story, the administration can use the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), to “use all necessary and appropriate force…”. Iran has already responded by completely pulling out of the nuclear deal and Trump just threatened Iraq for disinviting our 6000 troops.
How to fight back? Read this excellent article by currentaffairs.org called “How to avoid swallowing war propaganda” and share it widely. It will help us all cut through bad arguments, Hitlerized enemies, euphemisms, rabbit holes like Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, and let us see murder for what it is. And with Trump is charge, that it could be something more.
Trump is going all in with lethal force because he’s playing for keeps. And he’s not focusing on countries far away.
“In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials …offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable. Top American military officials put the option of killing (Soleimani) — which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq — on the menu they presented to President Trump.” They were “stunned” when he actually picked it…
We’re not. Trump has been “joking” for awhile about getting a third term to “make up” for the Russia investigation. There are not actual jokes. He, along with his true believers, are testing the waters. But why worry about all the details of getting votes to re-arrange the Constitution, when you can just take power, with a declaration of war?
Action – What to do now? Congress, do your job, while you still can.
Minimal script for Nancy Pelosi: (email here.) I’m writing to thank you for your leadership throughout the impeachment hearing and ask you to do anything within the power of Congress to stop Trump’s corrupt war against Iran, which I believe is linked to his impeachment. Please don’t give the articles of impeachment to McConnell. Witnesses spent hours of their time and were threatened and doxxed to bring you the information contained within, which he plans to dispatch as quickly as possible. (https://thehill.com/homenews/house/471703-impeachment-witnesses-come-under-threats-harassment) Respect their sacrifice in the name of truth and reopen the investigation to encompass the new Just Security information. Subpoena the parties mentioned in the report, using inherent contempt if necessary. Our president is willing to use war to stay in office. We should be willing to arrest people who have sworn oaths to serve our country and make them do their duty.
Minimal script for Reps.: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to Rep. [___] to do every action possible to stop Trump’s corrupt war, including the following:
- Publicly demand a stop to all military action.
- Remind Trump publicly that targeting cultural heritage sites is a war crime.
- Support Omar/Lee’s War Powers resolution. (Text identical to Senate SJ Res 63 )
- Reduce Trump’s abilities to create war by yanking back the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) NOW by approving:
- Support Sen.Sanders/Rep. Khanna’s new bill to block funding for “military force in or again Iran” without congressional approval. (Brownley and Carbajal are supporters!)
- Support Nancy Pelosi’s hold on the articles of impeachment and encourage issuing subpeonas to answer to the new evidence of Trump’s malfeasance in the Just Security report (John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, Michael Duffy and Robert Blair), using Congress’s power of inherent contempt (i.e. arresting them) if necessary.
- Start reviewing the powers Trump has access to in the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Meet NOW and every six months as the statute requires and verify time limits and the preservation of rights and freedoms. (There are currently 30 states of emergency in effect and he has access to more than 136 statutory powers, including the power to seize control of communications, which now includes US internet traffic.)
Minimal script for Senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to Senator [___] to do all actions possible to stop Trump’s corrupt war, including the following:
- Publicly demand a stop to all military action.
- Support Tim Kaine’s War Powers resolution – Senate: SJ Res 63 (current cosponsors here – not ours yet)
- Support Sen.Sanders/Rep. Khanna’s bill blocking funding: This new bill blocks funding for “military force in or again Iran” without congressional approval.
- NO SHAM TRIAL!: Publicly support Nancy Pelosi’s hold on the articles until subpeona impeachment witnesses appear in front of Schiff or Nadler’s committees to explain new information contained in Just Security’s report..
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Deep Dive ass-backwards a la “A Christmas Carol.
We’re going to start with the Ghost of America Future, then to America Present, and then America Past.
(Update: Trump doesn’t want a newly cooperative Bolton to testify in the Senate and Senator McConnell just told his GOP co-conspirators that he has the votes to begin the trial with just opening arguments and questions from senators, with no deal on witnesses.)
The ghost of America’s Future…
This great article, published in both the Atlantic and Brennancenter, complete with the imaginary scenario below, was written BEFORE Trump’s “perfect” call…
“Imagine that it’s late 2019. Trump’s approval ratings are at an all-time low. A disgruntled former employee has leaked documents showing that the Trump Organization was involved in illegal business dealings with Russian oligarchs. The trade war with China and other countries has taken a significant toll on the economy. Trump has been caught once again disclosing classified information to Russian officials, and his international gaffes are becoming impossible for lawmakers concerned about national security to ignore. A few of his Republican supporters in Congress begin to distance themselves from his administration. Support for impeachment spreads on Capitol Hill. In straw polls pitting Trump against various potential Democratic presidential candidates, the Democrat consistently wins.
Trump reacts. Unfazed by his own brazen hypocrisy, he tweets that Iran is planning a cyber operation to interfere with the 2020 election. His national-security adviser, John Bolton, claims to have seen ironclad (but highly classified) evidence of this planned assault on U.S. democracy. Trump’s inflammatory tweets provoke predictable saber rattling by Iranian leaders; he responds by threatening preemptive military strikes. Some Defense Department officials have misgivings, but others have been waiting for such an opportunity. As Iran’s statements grow more warlike, “Iranophobia” takes hold among the American public.
Proclaiming a threat of war, Trump invokes SEC. 706. [47 U.S.C. 606] War Emergency–Powers of President (and here.) to assume government control over internet traffic inside the United States, in order to prevent the spread of Iranian disinformation and propaganda. He also declares a national emergency under ieepa, authorizing the Treasury Department to freeze the assets of any person or organization suspected of supporting Iran’s activities against the United States. Wielding the authority conferred by these laws, the government shuts down several left-leaning websites and domestic civil-society organizations, based on government determinations (classified, of course) that they are subject to Iranian influence. These include websites and organizations that are focused on getting out the vote.
Lawsuits follow. Several judges issue orders declaring Trump’s actions unconstitutional, but a handful of judges appointed by the president side with the administration. On the eve of the election, the cases reach the Supreme Court. In a 5–4 opinion written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Court observes that the president’s powers are at their zenith when he is using authority granted by Congress to protect national security. Setting new precedent, the Court holds that the First Amendment does not protect Iranian propaganda and that the government needs no warrant to freeze Americans’ assets if its goal is to mitigate a foreign threat.
Protests erupt. On Twitter, Trump calls the protesters traitors and suggests (in capital letters) that they could use a good beating. When counterprotesters oblige, Trump blames the original protesters for sparking the violent confrontations and deploys the Insurrection Act to federalize the National Guard in several states. Using the Presidential Alert system first tested in October 2018, the president sends a text message to every American’s cellphone, warning that there is “a risk of violence at polling stations” and that “troops will be deployed as necessary” to keep order. Some members of opposition groups are frightened into staying home on Election Day; other people simply can’t find accurate information online about voting. With turnout at a historical low, a president who was facing impeachment just months earlier handily wins reelection—and marks his victory by renewing the state of emergency.”
The ghost of America’s Present…”The Unitary Executive” theory, Putin and emergency powers to subvert Congress’ power of the purse.
“What [Trump] enjoys most about this job is finding things he has absolute power over.” (axios)
Trump has been impeached, which actually seems to upset him, and he faces a possible re-election loss. Cornered and angry, he chose the most extreme retaliatory option the generals never thought anyone would pick, an action that can only be described as an act of war, and he’s already doubling down by committing 3500 American lives. Soldiers will die. There’s no going back now.
Running the government into the ground like a business: What he really wants is to be freed of the confining shackles of the Constitution, the annoying people who take it so seriously, the impeachment trial, Congress, even the whole election thing and rule by fiat, like he did with his own businesses. A properly staged emergency could give him wartime emergency powers, but until then, he’s activated his “Unitary Executive” offensive. This endeavor will be assisted by five Supreme Court judges, Attorney General Bill Barr (who is also planning for a theocracy) and every Federalist Society judge, who each were specifically screened for their belief in “unitary executive theory“, that Sen. McConnell just forced through the Senate. All of them believe more in presidential power than in individual liberties and are waiting to prove it.
It’s now more of a question of what can’t he do.
What is the “Unitary Executive” theory?
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Donald Trump boasted during the campaign. And according to his attorney and adviser Rudy Giuliani, if he tried it today, he could also get away with murder.
“I said, you know very theoretically, the answer is the president can’t be prosecuted for anything,” Giuliani told CNN, defending an earlier assertion to HuffPost that the president could shoot former FBI Director James Comey and avoid prosecution. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.” However, impeaching him under the “Unitary Executive” theory will become impossible. Guiliani and other unitary executive theorists believe that it would be not only be legal for him to stave off prosecution and pardon himself for the act, but he could even order the prosecution of those who try to hold him to account. “This is logic of a monarchical system, not a democratic one… even if Trump never makes use of the unlimited powers his advisers claim that he possesses, it’s clear that he is surrounded by a clique of sycophants who are willing to justify any course he might take.” Here are the main elements of this poisonous theory:
- Firing people: The theory asserts that the president can fire anybody in the executive branch, a dream for a reality TV host who became famous for the phrase “You’re fired” on The Apprentice. Notable firing traumas:
- Comey: Trump firings as president have been TV-dramatic, notably that of FBI director James Comey in order to derail “this Russia thing“. However, Comey’s notes and memos became evidence in the investigation led by Robert Mueller as Special Counsel.
- Mueller: After the FBI seized documents from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, Trump said “Why don’t I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens… But I think it’s a really sad situation when you look at what happened, and many people have said you should fire him.” Not as easily accomplished as firing Comey, but theoretically, he could keep firing people until he persuaded someone to fire Mueller. He ordered Donald F. McGahn II, his White House counsel, to fire Mueller, but McGahn threatened to resign.
- Andrew McCabe: McCabe said he was fired for being a witness into whether President Donald Trump tried to obstruct the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and that his termination, two days before he qualified for his pension, was a deliberate attack and a possible warning to others.
- Weaponizing Security Clearances: Trump will take full advantage of his power to revoke the security clearances of current and former officials who displease him. In particular, he revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance to openly punish him for his unflattering public statements. The equal and opposite power he also enjoys is ordering the granting of clearances to
son-in-lawspeople who are suspected security risks.
- Weaponizing/profiteering from pardons: One official noted, “[Trump] got a kick out of pardons, that he could pardon anybody he wants and people would come to him to court him and beg him.” But Trump has not simply contemplated generic pardons. Instead, he has clearly thought about how broad his power to pardon might be, including the possibility of issuing pardons that could have obstructed the Russia investigation, and has even broached the possibility of pardoning himself. As Trump tweeted in July 2017, “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.”
How close is this to happening?
The DOJ has already asked SCOTUS to help him remove protections from the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This is a prelude to requesting “unitary-executive” power to fire heads of any of the “independent agencies” in the executive branch and replace them with lapdogs, as he did for the CFPB, which has now been redirected to protect the interests of financial institutions against consumers. If he wins this battle, Trump could fire objectors to anything for any reason, including anyone who’d dare investigate him. He could also control election and stock market regulations and Putin would no longer have to “spy” on American intelligence, as Trump would have carte blanche to “rearrange” these agencies, and more, to their mutual legal and financial advantage:
- Central Intelligence Agency, which collects, evaluates, and disseminates vital information on economic, military, political, scientific, and other developments abroad to safeguard national security.
- Director of National Intelligence, which integrates the intelligence gathering and analysis functions performed across the intelligence community to provide intelligence to decision makers.
- Federal Election Commission (FEC) which oversees campaign financing for all federal elections
- Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. It formulates and administers credit and monetary policy. The question of whether Trump could fire Jay Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve is also the question of “can he?”
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which was established to protect investors who buy stocks and bonds and the
- Office of Government Ethics, which provides oversight, policy, and guidance to the Executive Branch regarding ethics laws and policies.
- Office of Special Counsel is an investigative and prosecutorial office that works to end government and political corruption, and to protect government employees and whistleblowers.
Quick review of Trump’s dependence on Putin
- “I believe Putin” – Part 1: Despite being presented with “clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election,” from his own intelligence agencies, Trump preferred to take Putin’s denials at his word. “I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties.” Even former House Speaker Paul Ryan roused himself from his normally supine position at his feet to say that “The President must appreciate that Russia is not our ally. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia, which remains hostile to our most basic values and ideals.”
- What a great idea!: Trump seriously entertained Putin’s request to interrogate Bill Browder, an American-born British financier who lobbied Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which resulted in harsh penalties and sanctions on Russia and former American ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, a harsh critic of Putin’s regime, in return for Mueller being able to question the Kremlin’s investigators regarding the 2016 hacking.
- Nothing to see here: He attempted to declassify large swaths of Russian counterintelligence investigation.
- The enemies of my friends…: Trump has repeatedly criticized US allies, called the European Union a “foe” and criticized the Obama administration rather than Russia in the wake of the Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian agents who allegedly worked to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks during the 2016 election.
- “I believe Putin” – Part 2: Trump told a former WH official that he knew that Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.“
- I can do what I want!: He has exposed intelligence information to Russians in the Oval office, including counterterrorism collection information and images of Iran’s launch site, making us less able to recruit foreign sources, or be trusted by our allies.
- Private meetings: He insists on meeting repeatedly one on one with Putin, a man who continues to direct Russia’s disinformation operations, removing witnesses as well as observers who could get information from studying Putin’s reactions.
- The enemies of my friends…: In 2018, Trump came close to eliminating the US intelligence’s ability to gather information by suggesting, by tweet, that Congress shouldn’t reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, saying that it might have been used to snoop on him.
- The destruction of fact: Discrediting the intelligence community: Like his attacks on the media, Trump explained: “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.” Trump tweeted a comparison of U.S. intelligence agencies to Nazis.
- Eyes and ears: He tried to installed an deeply underqualified political crony – Rep. John Ratcliffe to head what should be the apolitical Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
- “I believe Putin” – Part 3: He dismised advice from his own security agencies on the threat posed by North Korea’s missiles, saying “I don’t care. I believe Putin.”
In this screen grab from this great NYTimes article, Trump’s other good buddy, Kim Jong Un now has the capacity to hit our mainland.
How close are we to martial law now?
“Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
- The wall: In February 2019, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to secure funding that Congress had expressly denied for the construction of a wall along the southern border. He vetoed a Congressional resolution that would have stopped him, as well.
- Troops on U.S. soil: He sent active duty soldiers to the southern border to terrorize migrants.
- Weaponized pardoning: He offered to pardon government officials if they break any laws in attempting to finish construction on the wall at the US-Mexico border,
- I can do what I want!: He announced plans to end the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship by executive order.
- Emergency powers: He has stated that he intends to use the Insurrection Act to “to remove illegal immigrants from the United States, using the U.S. military to help deport undocumented immigrants.
- 1st Amendment: Trump stated publicly that it was embarassing for the country to allow protesters. At a Las Vegas rally during the 2016 campaign he said he’d like to punch a protester in the face; at another event encouraged his supporters to “knock the crap” out of any protester making trouble.
- 1st Amendment: The current Insurrection Act can be used against anyone he chooses – “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.” President George H. W. Bush used this Act to sent federal troops to Los Angeles to help restore order after the Rodney King riots.
- Banana Republican: He has repeatedly threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton. We can assume, if he is reelected, his rival could also face this issue.
- 1st Amendment: He thinks freedom of the press is “disgusting”. He has already blacklisted both reporters and entire news outlets from campaign events, threatened to cancel broadcast licenses of media companies and has threatened to change libel laws to sue those he dislikes. He’s floating the idea of a state-run news agency.
- Threatening the objectors: He’s publicly criticized the FBI’s leaders and threatened to “get involved” in investigations. Everybody who knew about his relations with Putin – James Comey (FBI), Andrew McCabe (FBI), Sally Yates (former asst. AG), and Peter Strzok (FBI) has been fired. He has repeated threatened the whistleblower who exposed his impeachable behavior.
- PEADS/FEMA: We have no idea what is contained in the current “Presidential Emergency Action Doctuments (PEADS) and many of us don’t know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), besides being responsible for disaster response, is also responsible for handling domestic unrest.
- PEADS drawn up during the 1950s through the 1970s would authorize not only martial law but the suspension of habeas corpus by the executive branch, the revocation of Americans’ passports, and the roundup and detention of “subversives” identified in an FBI “Security Index” that contained more than 10,000 names.
- In 1987, The Miami Herald reported that Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North had worked with FEMA between 1982 -1984 to create a secret contingency plan authorizing “suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the United States over to FEMA, appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments, internment camps and declaration of martial law during a national crisis.”
- The Miami Herald also published an article on July 5, 1987, based on a memo obtained from former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida‘s deputy, John Brinkerhoff, who was responsible for the martial law portion of national preparedness planning. The plan was said to be similar to one Mr Giuffrida had developed in 1970 as a thesis at the US Army War College to combat “a national uprising by black militants“. Guiffrida’s thesis, which was included in his 1981 Senate confirmation packet when Reagan appointed him to helm FEMA, provided for the detention “of at least 21 million American Negroes”‘ in “assembly centres or relocation camps”.
- A 2007 Department of Homeland Security report lists “martial law” and “curfew declarations” as “critical tasks” that local, state, and federal government should be able to perform in emergencies.
- In 2008, government sources told a reporter for Radar magazine that a version of the Security Index still existed under the code name Main Core, allowing for the apprehension and detention of Americans tagged as security threats.
- Enemies list: He has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, a deliberate targeting that cost these companies billions of dollars. Favorite target? Jeff Bezos of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, whose articles have not been kind to Trump.
- That’s not how any of this works: He’s lying in his tweet-notification to Congress of what he’s required to do under the War Powers Act. Here’s a better listing.
- “Second, he claims “[s]uch legal notice is not required.” That’s not true. Any time the president involves the armed forces into “hostilities,” he must–at a minimum–notify Congress within 48 hours.
- Third, he is also obligated to “in every possible instance . . . consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances . . .” under the WPR.
- Fourth, he is promising a “perhaps … disproportionate” strike in response–that’s another promise of an international law violation. Any action taken in self defense (the apparent justification for the strikes) must be necessary and proportionate to the threat posed.
- That any of this has to be said suggests just how insane this situation has become. Where are the White House, DoJ, DoD, State Dept. lawyers?
Ghost of America Past – Historic expansions of presidential power:
(today.law.harvard.edu) “During a crisis, presidents often find ways to rapidly increase their authority, whether those approaches are constitutional or not.”
This is an excerpt from THE LAW AS KING AND THE KING AS LAW: Is a President Immune from Criminal Prosecution Before Impeachment? by Eric M. Freedman, Hastings Const. L.Q. 7 (1992) Available for free and open access here. The author’s analysis is interesting as the issue of the power of a president and the concern, whether or not a president could murder with impunity, is discussed in a diary entry from 1789 that could have been written yesterday.
“If the President is merely one of “We the People” temporarily delegated to perform certain functions,” then the concept of absolute immunity has no more resonance than in the case of any other officeholder, and is as easily rejected. If, however, the President upon taking office becomes a different order of being, one who embodies “the continuity and indestructibility of the state,” then the issue takes on a different cast. In that case, an errant officeholder should first be removed so that the sacred nature of the office will not be profaned by outside intrusion.
But this view, which is precisely the one Thomas Paine ridiculed in the passage from Common Sense alluded to in the title of this Article, is politically debilitating-not just because it feeds the imperial delusions of the President, II not just because it frees the incumbent from popular control, but because it relieves “We the People” from the responsibility that we should bear for the actions of the head of a representative government.
The difference between The Law as King and the President as King is that the President is a person and The Law is not. The Law is an abstraction, but an abstraction with real meaning. In a system of representative democracy, The Law is us. Subjecting our highest officeholder to The Law thus represents our collective determination to be responsiblefor our own destiny…
The diary of William Maclay, a Pennsylvania member of the first Senate, contains the following entry under the date September 26, 1789:
When I first went into the Senate chamber this morning, the Vice President [Adams], Elsworth, and Ames stood together, railing against the vote of adherence in the House of Representativeson throwing out the words “the President” in the beginning of the Federal writs. I really thought them wrong, but, as they seemed very opinionated, I did not contradict them. This is only a part of their old system of giving the President as far as possible every appendage of royalty …. Ames left them and they seemed ratherto advance afterward. Said the President, personally, was not the subject to any process whatever; could have no action whatever brought against him; was above the power of all judges, justices,etc. For what, said they, would you put it in the power of a common justice to exercise any authority over him and stop the whole machine of Government? I said that, although President, he is not above the laws. Both of them declared you could only impeach him, and no other process whatever lay against him.
I put the case: “Suppose the President committed murder in the street. Impeach him? But you can only remove him from office on impeachment. Why, when he is no longer President you can indict him. But in the mean time he runs away. But I will put up another case. Suppose he continues his murders daily, and neither House is sitting to impeach him. Oh, the people would arise and restrain him. Very well, you will allow the mob to do what legal justice must abstain from.” Mr. Adams said I was arguing from cases nearly impossible. There had been some hundredsof crowned heads within these two centuries in Europe, and there was no instance of any of them having committed murder. Very true, in the retail way, Charles IX of France excepted. They generally do these things on a great scale. I am, however, certainly within the bounds of possibility, though it may be improbable.General Schuyler joined us. “What think you, General?” said I…”I am not a good civilian, but I think the President a kind of sacredperson.” Bravo, my “jure divino” man! Not a word of the above is worth minuting, but it shows clearly how amazingly fond of the old leaven many people are.”
An incomplete sampler of examples of the growth of presidential power.
- Lincoln may not have had any specific ambitions to expand the relatively modest presidential powers when he arrived. when the Civil War broke out, he didn’t hesitate to push the limits of those powers, if not defy them entirely. Lincoln called for 75,000 military volunteers after Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, and he later suspended habeas corpus—seemingly both congressional powers. He also authorized military trials of civilians. “He did all sorts of things that were constitutionally dubious,” Klarman says. “But during wartime, people expect the commander in chief to win the war. They don’t care that much about constitutional niceties.”
- Eighty years later, during World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt also expanded his reach and control. Through a pair of War Powers Acts, for example, Roosevelt increased his authority to reorganize vast swaths of the executive branch and independent government agencies to support the war effort… He gave himself the authority to censor mail. He also cracked open previously confidential information from the census, which ultimately led to Japanese American internment.”
- 9/11 expanded everything. George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13224 (as amended by Trump) prohibited transactions with both suspected foreign terrorist and any foreigner or U.S. citizen susupected of providing them with support. (Just Security’s report here) “Once a person was “designated” under the order, no American can legally give him a job, rent him an apartment, provide him with medical services, or even sell him a loaf of bread unless the government grants a license to allow the transaction. The Patriot Act gave the order more muscle, allowing the government to trigger these consequences merely by opening an investigation into whether a person or group should be designated. Designations under Executive Order 13224 are opaque and extremely difficult to challenge. The government needs only a “reasonable basis” for believing that someone is involved with or supports terrorism in order to designate him. The target is generally given no advance notice and no hearing. He may request reconsideration and submit evidence on his behalf, but the government faces no deadline to respond. Moreover, the evidence against the target is typically classified, which means he is not allowed to see it. He can try to challenge the action in court, but his chances of success are minimal, as most judges defer to the government’s assessment of its own evidence.”
- “[Presidents have] been detaining enemy combatants at the Guantánamo Bay detention center without trial for more than 18 years. The executive branch’s powers of secret surveillance in the domestic realm are super broad as a result of congressional authorizations.” George W. Bush’s created programs of warrantless wiretapping and allowed the torture of prisoners.
- Executive orders allow a president to act unilaterally, rather than work closely with Congress. “All presidents act in some measure by executive order,” says Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel from 2014 to 2017 and teaches a course at HLS on presidential power. He notes that most presidents issue hundreds of them during their time in office, and few merit much notice. “That said, you can predict when they’re going to be controversial.”(today.law.harvard.edu)
- Reality check” Mike Pence links Suleimani to 9/11 (Axios)
- Mike Pence shares 9/11 conspiracy theory about Qassem Soleimani in attemp to justify killing. (independent)
- Timeline: Trump, Giuliani, Biden, and Ukrainegate (updated) (justsecurity)
- Why Bill Barr is so dangerous (Atlantic)
- The alarming scope of the President’s emergency powers (Atlantic)(BrennanCenter)
- Presidential powers in times of emergency” Could terrorism result in a constitutional dictator (John Dean)
- Who will stop Trump’s war on Iran (nation)
- Trump is cornered, with violence on his mind. We must be on red alert (Robert Reich – Guardian)
- Here’s what it would look like if Trump started a war with Iran (mother jones)
- The unitary Executive theory versus the “steady state” in the Trump era (ahousedividedapd.com)
- “How to Avoid swallowing war propaganda” (currentaffairs.org)
- The pattern and practice of Trumps assault’s on the intelligence community. (just security)
- Former White House officials say they feared Putin influenced the president’s views on Ukraine and 2016 (wapo)
- Can the president just killl anyone he want now? (slate)
- Trump just declared war on Iran (slate)
- Trump’s road to American Martial Law (NYTimes)
- Executive Power (includes War Powers Act) (law.cornell.edu)
- The man who would be king. In order to protect the president, Trump’s advocates have turned to arguing his power is virtually unlimited (atlantic)
- Trump’s impeachable conduct strikes at the rule of Law: Part 2 (Americanprogress.org)
- President Trump, mocking the Constitution (theusconstitution.org)
- Foundations are in place for martial law in the US (smh.com.au)