Eric Columbus is a former Obama appointee to DOJ/DHS. Here are his views on Trump’s upcoming magical mystery tour to the southern border, where the fantasy “national security and humanitarian crisis” is being fabricated, in order to gin up the base.
Just speculating: Trump might
— announce national emergency
— thus unlocking statutes that some argue allow some wall-building
— thereby kicking fight to courts
— allowing him to reopen government while saving face
— and if he later loses in court he’ll have a new scapegoat. https://t.co/ICf2iUz8Mz
— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) January 7, 2019
The emergency powers available to a president are broad in scope and frankly quite frightening, considering that we have an autocrat who makes no bones about his admiration of tyrants, in the White House. Trump could use his emergency powers as president to take over broadcasting and wire facilities, and conceivably the internet. The Atlantic has a lengthy, must-read article today and a video to accompany it. We are in dark and treacherous waters, make no mistake.
It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump’s impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check.
But will they? Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.
Take 3:41 minutes of your time and watch this video by Elizabeth Gotein, who authored the Atlantic article. This is eye opening.