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Ex-DOJ lawyer explains how Trump is engaged in a cover-up — and it has nothing to do with Russia

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On Monday’s edition of MSNBC’s “The Beat,” former White House attorney and law professor Neal Katyal walked anchor Ari Melber through the egregious ways President Donald Trump has abused executive privilege — and is covering up more than just the Russia scandal.

“Executive privilege is this concept, Ari, that goes all the way back to the founding, the idea that presidents should have some zone of secrecy around them, to have confidential deliberations and decision making,” said Katyal. “I’ve been in two different administrations and I would say particularly President Obama was really careful to make sure that he wouldn’t invoke executive privilege unless absolutely necessary. He only invoked it once in eight years, even though many years he had Congress opposed to him in terms of being from the opposite party.”

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“One reason he did that and was so sparing was because he knew if he became extravagant in the use of executive power, then it would bind future presidents,” said Katyal. “Courts would push back, Congress would push back, the public would push back. And I think unfortunately Donald Trump’s profligate use of executive privilege is going to lead to those things.”

Katyal noted that “President Clinton invoked executive power a bunch of times … I think once he started doing that, the courts really pushed back on him. He couldn’t use it for things that actually had a better basis. He used it for things that were personal, like the Lewinsky investigation, trying to block his aides from testifying.”

“And now you see Donald Trump doing exactly the same thing, saying McGahn can’t come before Congress, can’t testify. And last week, startlingly Trump, said, I’m going to invoke executive privilege on the census. And there’s this whole debate which is now before the Supreme Court about why the Trump Administration added this question to the census about citizenship. The Census Bureau’s own statistician said this would really depress minority voting. There are now some documents that have come out which say this was a Republican plot all along—”

“Documents from a dead man’s laptop,” added Melber.

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“Exactly,” said Katyal. “Who knows whether it’s true or not, but that’s what, after all, Congress is supposed to get to the bottom of. Here you have the president saying, huh-uh, I’m not going to tell you. A judge, federal judge, has said, yeah, sure looks like the Trump Administration has been lying. And then the president invokes executive privilege. Again, it looks like to cover up wrongdoing, not for something else. It looks something out of the Nixon playbook.”

“Trump abuses every privilege in the same way,” said Katyal. “It’s kind of like King George. Take a legal concept and then stretch it beyond all recognition, and that’s what you have Trump doing. And so, you know, I don’t think that that will obviate the court fight. And I think ultimately, the Congress is going to have to fight in court and also have to open impeachment proceedings because it’s the only way to really guarantee quick answers on these bogus executive privilege assertions.”

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WATCH: CNN displays the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause as Trump rambles about it being ‘phony’

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Two days after intense pressure forced President Donald Trump to back down from his plan to host the 2020 G7 summit at his resort in Doral, Florida, the president dismissed the Constitution's anti-corruption clause—which his plan would have violated—as "phony."

"You people, with this phony Emoluments Clause," Trump told reporters at a White House press conference on Monday, responding to allegations that hosting the meeting of foreign leaders at his own property would be a conflict of interest.

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Pompeo says Trump is ‘fully prepared’ to take military action against turkey — who is a NATO ally

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Speaking to CNBC’s Wilfred Frost this Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Trump is ready to take military action against Turkey for its incursion into northeast Syria in the event that such action is "needed."

“We prefer peace to war,” Pompeo said on Closing Bell. “But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that President Trump is fully prepared to undertake that action.”

Pompeo declined to give specifics, saying that he doesn't want to "get out in front of the president’s decision about whether to take the awesome undertaking of using America’s military might," adding that economic and diplomatic "powers" could also be used.

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WATCH: Ben Carson thanks God for Trump in bizarre prayer — and then asks Him to ‘Keep America Great’

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Monday opened up the White House cabinet meeting with a bizarre prayer that explicitly thanked God for the existence of President Donald Trump.

Carson began his prayer with a standard invocation thanking God for "the blessings that you have bestowed upon this country."

After that, though, Carson gave God a thumbs-up for the work He's done in putting Trump in the White House.

"We thank You for President Trump, who also exhibits great courage in face of constant criticism," Carson said. "We ask you give him strength to endure and wisdom to lead and to recognize you as the sovereign of the universe, with the solution to everything."

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