In an exclusive interview with ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos last summer, Trump made the dubious claim that Article II of the U.S. Constitution “allows” him to do “whatever” he wants as president — a claim he has made many times.
Even though Article II clearly grants no such power — it defines the office of President, not the office of dictator or king — Trump has enjoyed using this non-existent power for his personal and political benefit. And thanks to the Trumpist enablers now running the Republican Party, we’re beginning to see where this is heading.
Republicans essentially granted Trump dictatorial power recently to ignore Congress’ Constitutional budget authority when they rubber-stamped his reallocation of a portion of the Defense Department budget to pay for his border wall. You remember. That’s the wall he said Mexico would pay for.
In the aftermath of his impeachment acquittal, Trump intervened in the sentencing of his friend Roger Stone, calling it his “absolute right” to do so. When challenged for his decision to override the DOJ in the matter, Trump further stated he could do so because he’s “the chief law enforcement officer of the country,” not the Attorney General.
Last week, Trump raised the ire of Democrats along with a few Republicans when he replaced his acting director of intelligence, Joseph Maguire, with his ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. Maguire was considered the leading candidate to get the gig permanently, but Trump went in another direction.
Initial reports stated Trump made this move in retaliation for Maguire’s office warning the House Intelligence Committee of Russia’s plan to interfere in the 2020 election. While that certainly sounds like the actions of Putin’s BFF, I think there’s another, more dictatorial motivation behind it.
Did you catch the “acting” part of the job title? That’s intentional. Persons appointed to an acting position aren’t subject to the Senate review and approval process that top-level administration officials are usually required to undergo to being permanently instated. In other words, Trump is free to unilaterally staff his administration without the checks and balances provided by the Constitution.
This has been Trump’s plan all along. When asked in a CBS News interview last year about the large number of acting officials in his administration, he said, “It’s okay. It’s easier to make moves when they’re acting. I like acting because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.”
Translation: Constitution? I don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution.
Besides stripping the checks and balances concerning appointees, Trump’s end run around the Constitution allows him to dole out political favors to loyalists based on their fealty to Trump, regardless of whether or not they are qualified.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative.