Donald J. Trump White House Page 78
He’s making it harder for future presidents to govern.By Neal K. KatyalPresident Trump has been on an executive privilege extravaganza. In the past month, he’s asserted it to block Congress from obtaining documents about the census citizenship question, invoked it to try to bar the full Mueller report from being given to Congress, and used it to bar his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, from providing documents to Congress. Executive privilege has a legitimate core, but Mr. Trump’s attempts are going to wind up undermining that core, and make it harder for future presidents to govern. He is essentially saying that he will not turn over information to Congress about potential wrongdoing — the absolute weakest claim to executive privilege along the spectrum of possible claims. Our constitutional system is defined by a balance between the public’s need for transparency and the government’s need to have a zone of secrecy around decision making. Both are important, yet they are mutually exclusive. The Constitution erred on the side of transparency, with no mention whatsoever of executive privilege in its original text. But the experience of constitutional government (what some might call a “living Constitution”) is that presidents over time have found a need for their advisers to give them frank information without fear of embarrassment, and the privilege has been used for these sorts of routine matters, by both Democratic and Republican presidents alike. Then came Richard Nixon. He asserted executive privilege to try to block turning over tapes that implicated him and his staff in criminal activity. It didn’t go well for him. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Mr. Nixon, saying a president was not above the law. Because the evidence contained on the tapes suggested wrongdoing, the privilege could not be used to shield his and his staff’s misconduct from sunlight. The Supreme Court decision was signed by three justices appointed by none other than Mr. Nixon.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large(CNN) - On Sunday night, ABC released the full transcript of George Stephanopoulos' two-day(!) interview with President Donald Trump. And, well, wow.I went through the whole thing -- and pulled out the best lines. They are amazing(ly) odd.
The president portrays himself as a straight talker, but he tends to try every possible response to tough questions to see what sticks.By David A. Graham Staff writer at The AtlanticChris Wallace’s question for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wasn’t complicated, or at least it shouldn’t have been. “Is accepting oppo research from a foreign government right or wrong?” the Fox News Sunday host asked. Yet it had the nation’s top diplomat sputtering. “Chris, you asked me not to call any of your questions today ridiculous. You came really close right there. President Trump has been very clear,” Pompeo said. “He clarified his remarks later.” Of course, had Trump been very clear the first time he addressed the subject, the president wouldn’t have needed to clarify anything later on. Trump’s answers have been a confusing mess; he even contradict himself in a long interview with George Stephanopoulos last week.Having exploited foreign assistance in 2016 and gotten away with it, the president is already trying it again in the 2020 race.By David A. Graham Staff writer at The Atlantic“I’m actually a very honest guy,” Donald Trump told George Stephanopoulos in an interview aired Monday. And while that claim holds no water in general, Trump was jarringly honest on one topic: his willingness to welcome foreign interference in the 2020 election. “It’s not an interference, they have information—I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI—if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘Oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it.” There are several plausible ways to interpret this. One, as my colleague David Frum shows, is as an astonishing confession. Another, laid out by my colleague Peter Nicholas, is that Trump has completely failed to learn the lessons of the 2016 campaign. Trump’s declaration, though, is neither especially surprising nor especially irrational. While the president has paid hefty political penalties for his behavior during the 2016 election, and while his latest comments will only stoke the fervor for impeachment among Democrats, the fact remains that the Trump campaign profited from foreign interference in 2016. It did not rebuff explicit offers of assistance from Russia, and capitalized on the roundabout assistance Russia’s release of hacked material provided. Whatever collateral damage Trump has received since the election, Russia’s interference helped him pull off a shocking upset victory in November 2016, and he’s so far escaped serious personal consequences for exploiting that aid.https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/kellyanne-conway-repeatedly-broke-law/591628/Kellyanne Conway Broke the Law—And Is Going to Get Away With ItA government watchdog says that the aide to the president is undermining the rule of law, and should be fired.By David A. Graham Staff writer at The AtlanticThe Office of Special Counsel says that Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, repeatedly violated the Hatch Act and should be fired. OSC says Conway broke the law by disparaging Democratic candidates for president, both while appearing on TV in her official capacity as an adviser to the president and on her Twitter feed. The Hatch Act prohibits most executive-branch employees from politicking. OSC, not to be confused with the office of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is the federal agency that polices the federal civil service. OSC’s recommendation is important not because it is likely to result in Conway’s firing, but because it is almost certain not to. There’s no question of Conway’s guilt here: OSC doesn’t waffle about whether she broke the law, and there’s no Mueller-style legalistic parsing. The report’s conclusion is clear, as is the recommended punishment. And yet the only person who can punish Conway is the president—the very man on whose electoral behalf she broke the law, and who has made clear, as recently as Thursday, his willingness to break the law in order to win elections. “Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law,” OSC wrote in a letter to the president. The office identified at least 10 instances of Conway breaking the law.
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