TRUMP’S TYRANNICAL BLUSTER ABOUT EMERGENCY
Although Donald Trump’s presidency has not yet been catastrophic, there has always been much potential danger from the ill-informed and mercurial chief executive.
Although most economists would have problems with strangling muchneeded immigration, starting a trade war with China and other nations, and cutting taxes but increasing spending, no matter whether the economy already WAS GROWING WELL OR NOT (A INE TRADITION for every Republican president, except George H. W. Bush, going back to Richard Nixon), Trump laudably has made noises about reducing the number of troops in some of the many US war zones overseas.
Yet the real danger of the Trump presidency — his tendency toward an authoritarian abuse of power — was recently apparent in his threat to declare a national emergency and have the US military build the border wall, despite the House of Representatives’ refusal to give him money for it.
Since World War II, the American presidency has become too powerful compared to the original plan laid out in the Constitution by the nation’s founders, and other recent presidents have used the unconstitutional “I must act, because Congress won’t” argument — Obama did so by an executive order protecting DACA kids — but Trump has engaged in other autocratic bluster that seems to make his threat of national emergency even scarier.
For example, Trump has repeatedly bashed the news media, even threatening to pull NBC’S nonexistent “license” and employing the Stalinist phrase “enemy of the people” against them.
He has also threatened to prosecute opponents, such as Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, and has purged law enforcement personnel who were investigating him.
Finally, he seems to have committed obstruction of justice and witness TAMPERING BY SUCH IRINGS AND PUBLIC statements to and the dangling of self-serving pardons to indicted persons connected to the investigation of Russian election tampering.
So when Donald Trump threatens to declare a bogus national emergency to allow the military to build his wall, using Defense Department money and “military eminent domain” (essentially the seizing of private land by the military), even Republicans in Congress AND TRUMP SUPPORTERS NEED TO INALLY begin worrying about the potential for executive tyranny.
First, despite past presidents declaring national emergencies, the Constitution does not authorize any such government seizure of power, because the nation’s founders had had quite enough of the British military occupation in colonial America and never wanted something similar to happen again.
The Constitution only authorizes the suspension of habeas corpus (an individual’s ability to challenge detention by the government) in times of war or insurrection — and then implicitly only by Congress (because the provision is in Article I, which governs Congress’s, not the executive’s, activities). With the experience of the tyranny of the British king, the founders were unlikely to have wanted the president to be able to suspend habeas corpus (although some past presidents have unconstitutionally done so), much less go further and declare a state of emergency or impose martial law.
Second, the Constitution requires that if federal activities are undertaken, they can do so only with money appropriated by Congress. A president unilaterally reprogramming money appropriated by the Congress for use by the Defense Department to build a useless border wall is contrary to this constitutional provision.