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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.

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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Robert Mueller likely thought Don Jr. was guilty — here’s why that actually made it hard to investigate Trump

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Special counsel Robert Mueller has completed his investigation of ties between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign, turned over his findings to Congress, and stepped down from his post at the Justice Department.

His findings were incredibly damning for the president and his allies, finding evidence that the campaign eagerly accepted Russian help, if not a full-blown conspiracy, and outlining ten potential episodes where Trump obstructed justice. But Mueller's conclusions are by no means the end-all of everything that happened. Mueller himself acknowledged in his report that Trump's lack of cooperation probably prevented him from finding a lot of information.

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Palestinians ‘not willing to give up their misery’, Israeli historian says

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The Palestinian leadership should sign on to the US economic development plan and worry about their political status later, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Historian Gaudi Taub told FRANCE 24.

The Palestinian leadership should sign on to the US economic development plan and worry about their political status later, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Historian Gaudi Taub told FRANCE 24.

Palestinians are wrong to reject the $50 million US blueprint to rebuild the Palestinian economy, which US Presidential advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner said is a precondition to peace in the region, Taub said.

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Ted Cruz slapped down at Senate hearing for ‘working the refs’ to keep extremist content on social media

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was called out for "working the referees" by attempting to "terrify" technology company executives into not enforcing their own rules against political extremism.

The Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet on Tuesday held a hearing titled, “Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms.”

"I think these questions raise very serious -- these documents raise very serious questions about political bias at the company," Cruz said, referring to Google.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) responded.

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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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