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Frightening prospect if an authoritarian like Trump declares state of emergency: consumer watchdog

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President Trump says that he will likely declare a national emergency over the border wall if negotiations over the government shutdown continue. We speak with Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The Congress has given the president quite a bit of authority to declare emergencies with terms that are almost unbounded,” Weissman says. “Congress has always expected, and society has always expected, that presidents wouldn’t abuse that authority recklessly, declaring emergencies just because they want to. We obviously have a president now who has no such constraints.”

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: But let me ask about President Trump declaring a national emergency. Some are speculating that the fact that the White House counsel is with him as he goes down to the border to McAllen, Texas, suggests he might be talking about declaring this emergency, which he says he has an absolute right to do. What is the significance of this? And then, possibly, the Pentagon coming up with two-and-a-half billion dollars extra to build the wall. And what does it say about a budget where an agency can find two-and-a-half billion dollars extra?

ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, you know, first, we shouldn’t ignore that last point you made. I mean, there’s so much money being wasted on military spending right now, you know, huge amounts of just money inside the Pentagon sloshing around, going to places where they can’t identify who is being paid and what it’s for. That’s its own legitimate national crisis that needs to be addressed.

But to the bigger point about the emergency, you know, as a matter of law, it’s going to be a complicated thing. The Congress has given the president quite a bit of authority to declare emergencies with terms that are almost unbounded and with powers that have few bounds. Congress has always expected, and society has always expected, that presidents wouldn’t abuse that authority recklessly, declaring emergencies just because they want to. We obviously have a president now who has no such constraints. So, if he does proceed, which I think is reasonably likely, it’s going to be a complicated matter of law.

But beyond what the law is, if you just think about the underlying principles, the sort of—the real constitutional principles, the democracy principles, it’s a serious matter, beyond just the outrage of funding a stupid, needless and immoral wall, or even part of one, which is what he would propose to do. He wants funding for a border wall. Congress is saying no. The move to call a national emergency is for the president to say, “I will not be constrained by what Congress says. Even though there’s not really a national emergency, I’ll just invoke these powers. I can do something that would otherwise be illegal, simply by declaring a national emergency.”

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Now, that is—if you follow the logic of that, that leads to almost unbounded presidential power. And when you have an authoritarian like Donald Trump in office, that is a frightening prospect. It does not have to end just at the reallocation of billions of dollars from the Pentagon, for whatever it was going to be spent on, towards building a useless and immoral wall. That authority could be invoked for all kinds of quite terrifying purposes, and it’s something that goes actually way beyond the significance of the wall itself, and something that we should be very, very concerned about, if it happens, as I think is reasonably likely.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, this would all go to court.

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Kim Jong-un threatens to restart nuke tests as Trump’s efforts to talk to the regime fall apart again: report

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On Tuesday, CNN's Brian Todd reported that the North Korean regime is on the brink of rescinding what little they promised President Donald Trump, as the future of his efforts to continue talks appear uncertain.

"Kim Jong-un's regime is once again in negotiation by intimidation," said Todd. "Just two weeks after their historic meeting at the DMZ, and President Trump's short stroll into North Korea, North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un appears to be threatening to start testing his nuclear weapons again. In a new statement, Kim's foreign ministry calls the joint U.S./South Korean military exercises planned for next month a breach of the main spirit of what President Trump and Kim agreed to in Singapore, and says, 'We are gradually losing our justifications to follow through on the commitments we made with the U.S."

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Republican freaks out after Democrat quotes Trump’s racist statement on the floor of Congress

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Chaos continued on the floor of the House of Representatives during the debate on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four young women of color.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) rose to support the resolution, listing multiple instances of racism from the commander-in-chief.

As part of the list, Swalwell noted Trump's attacks on "sh*thole countries."

After he swore on the floor by quoting the president, Republicans freaked out.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) complained and got in a back-and-forth with Swalwell.

Collins sought to have Swalwell's words stricken from the Congressional Record, which would have banned him from speaking for the rest of the day.

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‘He’s ignorant — not stupid’: NYT columnist says Trump is trying to ‘bait’ Democrats because he wants to run against AOC

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President Donald Trump is not going to get the 2020 opponent he wants, so he's going to pretend that his actual opposition is being led by the four young women in Congress known as The Squad, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote on Tuesday.

Trump has spent the last few days with racist attacks on the four first-term members, who are Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

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