Reading the news this past week, I’m left wondering who is actually in charge of the country? It’s an odd feeling to have seeing signs that the country you’re living in is actually being coordinated by a loose group of people who may or may not understand truly how government works. I’ve found that BBC News does a good job of covering American topics without a lot of bias, you may feel differently, but the sources in this post are all from BBC News.
On Tuesday, Virginia’s U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a preliminary injunction on the travel ban because it violated the U.S. Constitution in what amounted to a “Muslim ban”. Despite the fact that those words weren’t implicitly written in the travel ban from 7 middle eastern countries, those countries are overwhelmingly Muslim with a very small contingent being other religions.
In her 22-page ruling, the Virginia judge cited several of Mr Trump’s campaign statements including those in which he promised to create a “Muslim ban” if he were elected president. “The president himself acknowledged the conceptual link between a Muslim ban and the EO (executive order),” Judge Brinkema wrote. She also criticised the president’s statements that persecuted Christians may be permitted entry despite the ban, which she said amounts to a religious test. She also referenced a Fox News interview in which former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump adviser, said that the president wants a “Muslim ban” and that he had been instructed by Mr Trump to put together a commission to determine “the right way to do it legally”. Judge Brinkema sharply criticised lawyers for the justice department, who she said did not present any evidence except for the president’s executive order. “Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she wrote. “Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set” by the separation of powers laid out in the US Constitution.
As if the news coverage and protests on the travel ban weren’t enough to keep us on our toes, Michael Flynn announced that he was resigning as National Security Advisor this past Monday. Only 24 days or so on the job, there has been controversy surrounding this guy regarding his son and Pizzagate weeks prior to his appointment by President Trump. Now he is allegedly involved with conducting phone calls with the Russian Ambassador over the Obama Administrations actions towards the 35 Russian intelligence officers in December. He claimed he couldn’t recall or remember such events, something right out of the Watergate playbook.
Mr Flynn is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia’s ambassador before his own appointment. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy. US reports said earlier the White House had been warned about the contacts last month and had been told Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The national security adviser is appointed by the president to serve as his or her chief adviser on international affairs and defence.
[…] In his first public comments about the controversy, President Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N Korea etc?”
Do I need to go into detail over the fact that Trump is having an issue with the leaks coming out of Washington when he himself tweets out information that no previous President would have dared send out? I’m a proponent for transparency, but using Twitter as your platform of choice to assist with transparency is eliminating a large group of Americans that don’t have or can’t afford the Internet. Are we on the verge of our centuries “Watergate” scandal? Time will tell, but the signs are all there and the actions of the White House now will have a huge impact on the mid-term elections in 2018.
From inauguration to full-blown scandal and a high-level resignation in 24 days. That simply has to be some kind of record. Donald Trump never does anything small. If his administration is going to have a political crisis, why waste any time? Mr Flynn has now been cut loose but that may not be enough to staunch the bleeding. Congressional Democrats – and perhaps some Republicans – will want to find out who was informed about Mr Flynn’s contradictory stories and why nothing was done earlier. How far up the chain of command does it go? All of this has some observers dusting off language from the mother of all presidential scandals, Watergate. What did the president know, and when did he know it?
The tweets of the President go a long way in demonstrating that his operating knowledge of the Constitution is limited and he doesn’t have a full understanding of how the systems of government truly work. If he did, he would understand that an Executive Order is subject to the same checks and balances as any law passed by the Congress and it’s the Judiciary that determines constitutionality when a case is PRESENTED to them, never before.
Day to day, it’s the 94 District Courts which deal with interpretation of US laws, treaties, and public officials – powers devolved to them from the Supreme Court. But the courts do not offer opinions on government policy unless they are asked – they only interpret law when a case is brought before them. The other two branches of government make and enforce the laws, and the judicial branch interprets the laws when there is a dispute. That is the issue here – a presidential executive order has all the force of law, and is subject to the same checks.
As the Constitution states: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made… US Constitution, Article III (2)
Someone should send President Trump a copy of the U.S. Constitution so that he may reference it before singing anymore Executive Orders. With all the negativity that has surrounded this administration the last four weeks, one thing is for sure, we’re living through what will likely be a dark time in our countries history.