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No mere ‘stunt’: Experts warn Trump emergency declaration would spark a ‘constitutional crisis’

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As President Donald Trump continues to escalate his threat to declare a national emergency to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border—and amid reports that his administration is already laying the groundwork for the declaration—legal experts and progressive critics warned against the notion that the move would be a mere political “stunt” and argued it would spark a full-blown constitutional crisis.

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“This is a constitutional crisis, plain and simple,” Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, wrote in a series of tweets on Thursday following Trump’s brief visit to the border, where he said he will “most likely” make good on his threats to declare a national emergency.

“The constitution gives Congress solely the power to appropriate funds,” Miles added. “They have done so and Trump is planning to unilaterally take those funds and use them for another purpose for his own political agenda… If he can claim anything is a crisis to get what he wants, there is no meaningful balance of power.”

While many legal experts have argued that declaring a national emergency to fund the construction of a border wall would be an illegal abuse of power, Miles argued that there is “no reason to believe” the courts—and particularly not the conservative-dominated Supreme Court—will stop Trump from bypassing Congress to construct a border wall that most Americans don’t want.

In a recent piece for the New York Times, Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman argued that not only would Trump’s proposed emergency declaration be illegal, “but if members of the armed forces obeyed his command, they would be committing a federal crime.”

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“What this all adds up to is a potential crisis much graver than whatever immigration emergencies the president has in mind: A legally ignorant president forcing our troops to choose between his commands and the rule of law in a petty political struggle over a domestic political question,” Ackerman concluded.

While it is not at all clear when or even if the president will declare a national emergency, Kristen Clarke—president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights Under Law—echoed Miles and others in arguing that the move would spark a constitutional crisis.

“If Trump invokes ’emergency’ powers to build his wall, this would thrust the nation into a constitutional crisis,” Clarke wrote. “No president in the last two centuries has invoked emergency power to fund a policy goal after failing to secure approval from Congress.”

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Warnings about the dire implications of Trump’s possible national emergency declaration over a non-existent crisis came as NBC News reported on Thursday that the president is considering a plan to divert billions of dollars away from from disaster relief and prevention efforts in Puerto Rico, Texas, and California to fund the construction of “315 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“Under the proposal,” NBC reported, “Trump could dip into the $2.4 billion allocated to projects in California, including flood prevention and protection projects along the Yuba River Basin and the Folsom Dam, as well as the $2.5 billion set aside for reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria.”

In a statement, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said it “would be beyond appalling for the president to take money from places like Puerto Rico that have suffered enormous catastrophes, costing thousands of American citizens lives, in order to pay for Donald Trump’s foolish, offensive, and hateful wall.”

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“Siphoning funding from real disasters to pay for a crisis manufactured by the president is wholly unacceptable and the American people won’t fall for it,” Velázquez added.

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams


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Trump lashes out at Lindsey Graham after he accuses the president of showing ‘weakness’

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President Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham, once bitter enemies, have become close allies since the 2016 election as the South Carolina Republican realized it was in his personal interest to cozy up to the White House. But on Tuesday, fractures emerged between the two in public over a key issue for Graham: Iran.

Graham is on the severely hawkish wing of the Republican Party, and he clearly wants a war with Iran. He began a series of tweets Tuesday by praising Vice President Mike Pence’s briefing that day about the recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, saying he believes that “such a sophisticated attack could not have occurred without Iran’s blessing and direct involvement.” He called it an “an act of war” and lauded the Trump administration’s “efforts to create a regional coalition, thoroughly brief the Congress on the actions taken, and come up with a plan of action to restore deterrence against an evil regime in Iran.”

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Rick Santorum rips into Corey Lewandowski’s ‘flippant’ admission that he’s happy to lie to the media

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During his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, President Donald Trump's former campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski — who was hoping to leverage his appearance trashing Democrats and the Russia investigation for a Senate run in New Hampshire — was forced to admit that he constantly lies on air.

On CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," even former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), a staunch defender of the president, was aghast at this.

"Senator, isn't it kind of a weird way to run for Senate by admitting that you're happy to lie to the American people?" asked Cooper. "I know he was phrasing it as lying to the media, lying to reporters, but, you know, it's not as if — the end result is you're lying to the American people. You are giving people false information. And you're fine with that? You have no moral problem with that?"

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Right-wingers have a full-blown freakout over Kavanaugh revelations — and it could blow up in their faces

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Do Republicans think “men are the real victims of sexism” is a winning argument going into the 2020 election? That sounds preposterous, but there are strong indications that Donald Trump and other leading Republicans believe they can win by feeding a “victim mentality” in men, a mentality they otherwise tend to decry when detected in actual victims.

On Sunday, the New York Times published an article by the authors of a new book about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, introducing more corroborating evidence for claims that Kavanaugh had a history throughout high school and college of getting trashed and then sexually abusing his female classmates. That story, almost a year after Kavanaugh’s momentous confirmation hearings, was interesting further evidence that Kavanaugh likely perjured himself before the Senate. Ultimately, it doesn’t really change anything, since there’s little reason to believe that anyone actually believed Kavanaugh was telling the truth at the time.

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