Monday, November 14, 2016

The weaponized executive

Hit and Run: "'I've Got a Pen and I've Got a Phone': Obama's Executive Overreach Becomes Trump's Executive Overreach - The dangers of unchecked executive power."

As this article notes, the NY Times condemned executive power when Bush was President but loved it when Obama took over.  Take a guess which way they'll shift on this rollercoaster of editorial consistency.

Extra - Kevin Williamson: "I won."  "The pretensions of the imperial presidency are going to haunt Democrats for the immediate future, but they’ll quickly rediscover their belief in limits on the executive."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are unintended consequences in checked power, too.

When he moves into the White House in January, Donald Trump will bring with him some unusual baggage: a long list of pending lawsuits in which he is either a plaintiff or a defendant. And just because he'll be president doesn't mean these cases are going away. For this, Trump can thank Paula Jones and the husband of his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.

By USA Today's count, Trump is involved in at least 75 ongoing cases. They include the numerous fraud lawsuits targeting the president-elect's now-defunct Trump University, which encouraged students to take out hefty loans in order to enroll in its get-rich-quick real estate seminars... During his presidency, Trump won't be able to avoid potentially embarrassing court proceedings, depositions, and even the possibility of appearing as a witness in court. The law is clear that a sitting president can be sued for private conduct—which brings us to the Paula Jones story.

...Jones' lawsuit resulted in a 1997 Supreme Court decision in her favor that now ensures that all the civil suits currently pending against Trump—and any that may yet be filed concerning his business or private life—can go forward while he's in office. Because of this ruling, Trump can be forced to testify, produce evidence, submit to depositions, and ultimately pay judgments in cases he loses.

Jones' Supreme Court victory was due in part to the work of George Conway III, a Republican lawyer who is married to Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway... Conway penned an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times arguing that Clinton was relying on dubious legal arguments. "In a case involving his private conduct, a President should be treated like any private citizen," he wrote. "The rule of law requires no more—and no less."

...In 1996, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the case should move forward, saying that it could find no "case in which any public official ever has been granted any immunity from suit for his unofficial acts." Clinton appealed the decision, asking the Supreme Court to delay the trial until after he left office. Conway wrote the Supreme Court brief for Jones. In a unanimous decision written by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, the court agreed with Conway, and the Jones case proceeded. Clinton was subsequently forced to submit to hours of depositions in the case—a first for a sitting president. Jones ultimately settled with Clinton for $850,000.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump brought Jones back into the spotlight, resurrecting her allegations against Bill Clinton. Yet the Jones case could ensure Trump will be embroiled in civil litigation for years to come as president.

All the arguments that Conway made on Jones' behalf will apply to Trump. He could, of course, settle all the pending suits he's involved in. Trump said repeatedly during the campaign that he did not want to settle the Trump University class-action suit that is slated to go to trial later this month.

...There is still one way Trump can avoid the barrage of lawsuits he's enmeshed in, at least for a while. In its decision in Clinton v. Jones, the Supreme Court noted that Congress could pass legislation to shield sitting presidents from civil suits. Will Trump ask the Republican Congress to protect him from legal action? If that's his plan, he'd better act soon. The Trump University trial could start before the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.