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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Trump v. the US Constitution

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's place in the American constitutional system.  His response to the Russia indictment -- which spelled out a cyber-attack on American democracy -- was not to plan a tough response or improve our defenses.  Instead, he faulted the FBI for spending too much time on the issue.

Lloyd Green at The Guardian:
Donald Trump has demanded that the New York Times reveal the identity of an anonymous op-ed writer so he might be charged with treason. To cloak himself from criticism, Trump also seeks to weaken America’s libel laws.
Yet even as Trump wages war on free speech and the first amendment, he appears to have forgotten that the only reason he holds office is the constitution itself. Trump demonstrably lost the popular vote; his legitimacy emanates solely from the provisions of the document he appears to hold in the same regard as the truth.
Fear, the latest chronicle of a president from Bob Woodward, who with Carl Bernstein did so much to bring down Richard Nixon, only reinforces this dismal picture. From beginning to end, Woodward treats us to a portrait of an occupant of the Oval Office who sucks the life out of his subordinates.
Trump is continually reminded of the legal constraints that encumber the presidency, that dyspeptic diktats are not substitutes for legislation or even executive orders, and that the White House counsel and attorney general ultimately owe duties to their country and offices, not reflexively to the guy who hired them.
And he hates all of it.
 Patrick Anderson at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader:
He even asked South Dakota's two U.S. Senators, Republicans Mike Rounds and John Thune, to draft policies for new libel laws.

“Hey Mike and John, could you do me a favor?" Trump said. "Create some libel laws that when people say stuff bad about you, you could sue them."

The president has been defensive of his administration in response to an anonymous op-ed published in The New York Times and stories about an upcoming book from journalist Bob Woodward about his administration, including a part that describes staffers swiping documents from his desk.



Lara Brown at The Hill:
On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump swore to “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States … [and] preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Presidency scholars will admit readily that this oath is full of ambiguity and that many of our past presidents crossed constitutional boundaries and engaged in morally untenable behavior, such as lying, scapegoating and staging cover-ups.
Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order that led to the internment of more than 112,000 Japanese-Americans. And since Harry Truman sent troops into North Korea, as Lou Fisher with the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of Americashowed, “Presidents have exceeded constitutional and statutory authority in exercising the war power.”
From Crédit Mobilier and Teapot Dome to Watergate and the Lewinsky affair, plenty of scandals have swamped previous administrations and left a lasting stain on presidents.

Still, no president has come close to President Trump and the volume and scope of his behavior.