At his press conference on Monday, President Trump told reporters that he had “total” and “ultimate authority” over the states. These statements followed a series of tweets by the president in which he claimed authority to decide when states should reopen.
The answer is obviously that Donald Trump thinks he does have unlimited authority. On most topics, the president says what he thinks and this line of thought is nothing new. As I’ve pointed out in the past, Trump said on numerous occasions before the pandemic that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want as president.”
If we look back over Trump’s first term, it’s evident that he really believes that he can do whatever he wants. Here are a few examples:
- Starting a tariff war on the “trumped up” national security considerations
- Abusing national emergency powers to bypass Congress in funding the wall
- Using his bureaucracy to unilaterally ban a popular gun accessory
- Instructing subordinates to cover up his attempts to subvert the Mueller investigation
- Attempting to negotiate a quid pro quo with a foreign head of state to exchange aid money for an investigation of Joe Biden
- Firing the inspector general who validated the whistleblower report
- Ignoring Congress’ demand for accountability on pandemic bailouts
- Removing the inspector general who chaired the pandemic oversight committee
- Profiting from government spending on his businesses while in office
- Appointing his children and other relatives to government posts
- Blatantly lying to the public on a daily basis
Donald Trump thinks he has unlimited power because he has run roughshod over Congress and constitutional failsafes. It takes years for lawsuits opposing his actions to wind their way through the legal system and Congress is too divided to oppose him effectively. Republicans criticize him but don’t dare oppose him when the chips down.
In the most serious attempt to rein in the rogue executive, Trump escaped being removed through impeachment because only one Republican would cross the aisle to call him to account. President Trump thinks he has total authority because Congress had abdicated its responsibility to limit him.
If Donald Trump is to learn that presidents cannot do whatever they want, it will be up to voters to teach him.
Originally published on The Resurgent
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