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Trump’s national emergency powers are a Pandora’s box

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Donald Trump could open a Pandora’s box if he invokes special crisis powers. The U.S. president is considering bypassing Congress to build a border wall by declaring a national emergency. In theory, similar authority could enable him to shut down CNN, say, or block access to Facebook.

Trump used the language of war to make his case for a border wall on Tuesday night. He asked “how much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?” About 266,000 illegal immigrants were arrested in America in 2017 and 2018, but most were for traffic violations, drug offenses or breaking immigration laws.

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An American president has wide latitude in deciding what is an emergency, which then gives him a vast array of powers. The Brennan Center for Justice identified 136 areas where a U.S. leader could act outside the normal scope of authority in such a situation. Trump could divert government funds for a wall, rather than being stuck because Congress is refusing to provide the $5.7 billion he wants.

A crisis could be used to serve other parts of his agenda. Trump regularly accuses media outlets including CNN and some online platforms of bias against him and Republicans in general. A threat of war, state of peril or other emergency would allow the president to suspend or amend regulations for wire communications entities, or shut down or take control of such facilities.

A cyber war with China, foreign interference in U.S. elections, or even the airing of an interview with someone like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange could provide a pretext to target CNN or MSNBC, according to Timothy Edgar, an attorney and former national security official. Similar reasoning could be used to block online access to Facebook if the social network’s activities were deemed to fall under wire communications.

Such moves would face legal challenges on grounds including the First Amendment’s free-speech protections. Congress could also pass a resolution terminating any declared emergency, but would need the support of two-thirds of both chambers to overcome Trump’s veto. A more comprehensive approach would be for legislators to narrow the definition of an emergency so a president could only declare one in a true crisis. A commander-in-chief needs some leeway in extreme situations, but it’s the job of lawmakers to set limits.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump just got busted for inflating his golf resorts’ value by $165 million — a jailable offense

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President Donald Trump appears to have misstated the value of his Scottish golf resorts by $165 million, an act which could potentially constitute a federal crime.

The controversy came to light after seemingly conflicting financial disclosure forms regarding the president's Aberdeen and Turnberry resorts in Scotland were submitted in the U.S. and the U.K., according to a new report by HuffPost.

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Rudy Giuliani accuses majority of US Jews of ‘disloyalty to Israel’ — and gets torn to pieces

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Rudy Giuliani appears on Fox News Sunday (Fox News/screen grab)

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday tried to clean up President Donald Trump's declaration that "any Jewish people" who vote for Democrats have "a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty."

Writing on Twitter, Giuliani explained that Trump wasn't saying Jewish Democrats were disloyal to America -- rather, he was saying they were being disloyal to Israel.

"Really disappointed a rep of ADL would feign confusion about [Trump's] statement," Giuliani said. "POTUS is referring to disloyalty to Israel."

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‘Where’s Steve?’ Trump notices a right-wing ally missing from CNN — and wants him back on TV

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President Donald Trump has been asking some of his administration officials why one of his favorite boosters has disappeared from CNN's airwaves.

Steve Cortes, a member of the Trump 2020 advisory board and a paid on-air CNN contributor, has reportedly been banished by the network's executives, and the president doesn't like it, reported The Daily Beast.

“Where’s Steve?” the president has repeatedly asked, according to two officials who overheard him in the White House.

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