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- Impeachment, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, and How Trump Could Get Fired | The New Yorker
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The news thus far is not all bad. The prognosis for the rest of our democratic culture is grimmer, however. These changes will be harder to undo. Trump, in short, is wielding a Soprano touch on American institutions. Confident that George Washington would be the first chief executive and would use his power responsibly, they established an unstructured office with ambiguous authorities.
These vague constitutional contours allowed the presidency to grow, in response to changes in society and the world, into a gargantuan institution that the Framers never could have foreseen. The flexible structure of the office has meant that it is defined largely by the person who occupies it—his character, competence, and leadership skills. Roosevelt, exercised power wisely though controversially to lead the nation through crisis. But Richard Nixon debased the office and betrayed the Constitution and our laws, while others, like Ulysses S.
Grant and Warren G. Harding, allowed the executive branch to become engulfed in corruption and scandal. This was the background to the near-hysterical worries when Trump became president. During the campaign, he pledged to act in illegal ways; expressed illiberal attitudes toward freedom of speech, religion, and the press; attacked immigrants and minorities; tolerated, and even incited, thuggery at his rallies. Thus far, however, Trump has been almost entirely blocked from violating laws or the Constitution.
The courts, the press, the bureaucracy, civil society, and even Congress have together robustly enforced the rule of law. Issued seven days into his presidency, the ban was sloppily written, barely vetted inside the executive branch, legally overbroad, and incompetently rolled out.
A crucial moment occurred during the week after Trump issued the order. Civil-society groups such as the ACLU quickly filed habeas corpus petitions asking federal courts to enjoin the order in various ways, which they did.
Here's everyone who's running for president in 2020, and who has quit the race
For several days, it was unclear whether border agents were complying with the injunctions, and rumors that Trump or his Department of Homeland Security had ordered them not to filled the news. When a federal district-court judge in Seattle named James Robart halted the entire immigration order nationwide in the middle of the afternoon on Friday, February 3, Twitter and the cable shows were aquiver for several hours with the possibility that Trump would defy the court. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who had brought the case against Trump, treated the question as a live possibility.
Taney that the president lacked the authority to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and Franklin Roosevelt threatened to ignore the Supreme Court in a World War II case involving Nazi saboteurs. But during the next few decades, judicial authority solidified.
Though many worried that Nixon would disobey the Supreme Court in when it ordered him to turn over his incriminating tapes to a special prosecutor, Nixon famously acquiesced. Would Trump? We can imagine him ranting deliriously after Robart issued his decision. But at p. And 10 hours later, at a.
Perhaps his staff convinced him that ignoring the ruling would spark resignations in the White House and the Justice Department, as well as congressional reprisal, which would jeopardize his two-week-old presidency. Whatever the reason, the most powerful man in the world complied with the edict of a little-known federal trial judge on an issue at the top of his agenda. The Constitution held. The still-unfolding Russia investigation is a second context in which checks and balances have worked well thus far.
In trying to influence the investigation, Trump has acted much like Nixon did.
Impeachment, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, and How Trump Could Get Fired | The New Yorker
He has pressured his senior intelligence and law-enforcement officials to help clear his name and fired the original lead investigator, FBI Director James Comey. Unlike Nixon, Trump has also publicly attacked just about everyone involved in investigating him. And yet every institution has stood firm. But the opposite happened. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, another Trump appointee, angered the president but also followed the rules in appointing a special counsel, the esteemed former FBI director Robert Mueller, to investigate the matter.
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Mueller has assembled a formidable squad of prosecutors and investigators and impaneled a grand jury. As of press time, he had not done so. But such a step would not take the heat off him any more than canning Comey did. The Republican-controlled Congress would also likely act. But in the context of facing a Republican president in his honeymoon first year, it has been remarkably tough. This summer, by large bipartisan majorities, it passed a law imposing sanctions on Russia that Trump abhorred and that curbed his power.
But the press uncovered his shenanigans, Nunes stepped aside, and the House has since been pursuing the matter more seriously. These efforts reflect unusual Republican distrust of a Republican president, and would surely ramp up if Trump fired Sessions or Mueller. A symbiotic relationship between the bureaucracy and the press has also exposed abuses and illegalities. When The New York Times published a leaked draft of an executive order that would have restored CIA authority for black sites and enhanced interrogation, the outcry in Congress and elsewhere killed the order.
Trump and his family have not yet been brought to heel on their business conflicts of interest. Checks have been weakest here, but that is mainly because the Constitution and laws are ambiguous on such conflicts, and are not designed for judicial enforcement. Nonetheless, several imaginative lawsuits have been filed against Trump and his associates, and the press has done a good job of bringing conflicts to light. Trump has been less constrained by norms, the nonlegal principles of appropriate behavior that presidents and other officials tacitly accept and that typically structure their actions.
Norms, not laws, create the expectation that a president will take regular intelligence briefings, pay public respect to our allies, and not fire the FBI director for declining to pledge his loyalty. There is no canonical list of presidential norms. They are rarely noticed until they are violated. Donald Trump is a norm-busting president without parallel in American history. He has told scores of easily disprovable public lies; he has shifted back and forth and back again on his policies, often contradicting Cabinet officials along the way; he has attacked the courts, the press, his predecessor, his former electoral opponent, members of his party, the intelligence community, and even his own attorney general; he has failed to release his tax returns or to fill senior political positions in many agencies; he has shown indifference to ethics concerns; he has regularly interjected a self-regarding political element into apolitical events; he has monetized the presidency by linking it to his personal business interests; and he has engaged in cruel public behavior.
The list goes on and on. Presidential norm-breaking is neither new nor always bad. Thomas Jefferson refused to continue the practice begun by George Washington and John Adams of delivering the State of the Union address in person before Congress, because he believed it resembled the British monarch speaking before Parliament.
Who Was Richard Nixon?
For the next years, presidents conveyed the State of the Union in writing—until Woodrow Wilson astonished Congress by addressing it in person, a practice that once again settled into a norm. Although the Constitution allowed presidents to serve for more than two consecutive terms, no one did so until Franklin Roosevelt won a third term, in Roosevelt tried but failed to break another norm when he sought to increase the number of Supreme Court justices in order to secure more favorable interpretations of his New Deal programs.
These and countless other examples show that presidential norm violations have often been central to presidential leadership. Greenstein has put it. Put another way, he is far less hypocritical than past presidents—and that is a bad thing. Hypocrisy is an underappreciated political virtue. It can palliate self-interested and politically divisive government action through mollifying rhetoric and a call to shared values.
He is incapable of keeping his crass thoughts to himself, or of cloaking his speech in other-regarding principle. His successors are no more likely to replicate his self-destructive antics than they would be if he yelled at the first lady during a public dinner or gave a televised address from the White House Rose Garden in his bathrobe.
He has been rebuked for his attacks on investigatory independence not just by his political opponents but by more-sympathetic voices in the Republican Party and on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and even, implicitly, by his own Justice Department appointees, who have continued the Russia investigation despite his pushback. The majority of the other presidential norms that Trump has defied will similarly be strengthened by the reactions to his behavior, and will snap back in the next presidency.
During the presidential campaign, Trump gave his challengers derogatory nicknames. Norm-breaking helped him more during the campaign than it has in the presidency. Two days before Super Tuesday, on February 28, , Rubio decided to fight back. But he had sacrificed his integrity, and his campaign collapsed. Rubio later admitted that the gambit had been a mistake, and apologized.
pierreducalvet.ca/2733.php What happened to Marco Rubio on the campaign trail is now happening to a variety of American institutions. These institutions have risen up to check a president they fear. But in some instances, they have defied their own norms, and harmed themselves and the nation in the process. Unfortunately, many of these norm violations will be hard to reverse.
During the transition, and continuing after the inauguration, federal employees who were repulsed by the new president and his agenda discussed strategies to hide or alter documents, leak damaging information, and slow down the process of changing government policy. These tactics had been used before; clashes between the governing class and a new administration are not uncommon.
But the scale of the effort, and especially how it was coordinated, was new. Not all of them have come from bureaucrats; Trump appointees have engaged in leaking too. But many of the leaks appear to have come from career civil servants who seek to discredit or undermine the president. And many involve types of information that have never been leaked before. In August, The Washington Post published complete transcripts of conversations Trump had had with the prime minister of Australia and the president of Mexico.
The most-harmful leaks have been of information collected in the course of surveillance of Russian officials. The first, in February , concerned a December court-approved National Security Agency wiretap of a phone conversation between the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and the incoming national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, that included a discussion of U.
The leaks of Russia intercepts may seem commonplace, but they violated taboos that had been respected even in the wild west of unlawful government disclosures. The first was a taboo against publishing the contents of foreign intelligence intercepts, especially ones involving a foe like Russia. It is hard to recall another set of leaks that exposed so much specific information about intelligence intercepts of a major adversary.