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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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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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