Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Opinion: Trump’s kleptocracy could be turning the U.S. into a banana republic

Posted by hkarner - 4. Mai 2017

Thanks to R.H.

Published: May 3, 2017 8:04 a.m. ET

 Lawsuits and other tools are needed to restrain presidential power

Donald Trump’s presidency has already undermined or called into doubt a number of fundamental norms of American democracy.  

Consider: Trump and his advisers have threatened political opponents and journalists who criticize or raise questions about the administration.  Last weekend, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus suggested weakening First Amendment protections governing freedom of the press as a possible tactic.  Trump has made a practice of praising foreign dictators and authoritarians like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, France’s Marine Le Pen, and Rodrigo Duterte of The Philippines,  while mocking, threatening, and questioning  the legitimacy of U.S. federal judges who issue rulings against the administration’s policies.

One of the most disturbing things about these developments is that what once would have been universally seen as scandalous has become almost commonplace For instance, as commentator Matt Yglesias recently observed, the Trump family has unprecedented conflicts of interest (Donald Trump incorrectly stated that it’s impossible for the president to have such conflicts).  Trump and his children are boldly defiant about theirintentions to profit from the presidency, and it’s clear that they believe they can do so with impunity

Not everyone agrees, though.  Former George W. Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter believes Trump is violating the Constitution and committing impeachable offenses by receiving benefits from foreign governments through business dealings while in office.  Painter is part of a legal team that filed a lawsuit against the president on these grounds.  Now Senate Democrats reportedly are considering filing a similar lawsuit.

If you’re concerned about unchecked presidential power, this is good news.  But it’s important to include some caveats. First, even if Senate Democrats do move ahead with legal action, there is no guarantee they or others would prevail in court. They might run into significant legal obstacles, including the question of whether they have standing even to bring suit.  Even if one or more of these lawsuits does make its way through the courts, it could take months or even years for resolution.

Congress has plenty of tools available — if it chooses to act.

This is not to say that lawsuits are a waste of time.  The courts play an important role in defining the scope and limits of presidential power, and litigation is one way to seek enforcement of constitutional principles.

But it would be a mistake not to consider other options. The fact that only Democrats in Congress are talking about bringing a lawsuit highlights Congress’s institutional failure so far to carry out its constitutionally mandated role in acting as a check on presidential power.

The main reason Senate Democrats are considering litigation as a way to rein in Trump’s kleptocratic presidency is that congressional Republicans have shown no inclination to take action.  Congress has plenty of tools available — if it chooses to act.

There may be indications that congressional Republicans understand Trump’s presidency is uniquely dangerous. Columnist  Ezra Klein quoted an unnamed Republican Capitol Hill staffer as saying before the Senate confirmed Trump’s Supreme Court nominee that “if we get [Neil] Gorsuch and avoid a nuclear war, a lot of us will count this as a win.”  Jerry Taylor, a libertarian think-tank president, estimates that “there’s only between fifty and a hundred Republican members of the House that are truly enthusiastic about Donald Trump as President.  The balance sees him as somewhere between a deep and dangerous embarrassment and a threat to the Constitution.”

 Donald Trump’s Unpredictable 100 Days

The big question, of course, is how to convince these skeptical Republicans to act.  Public opinion could play a role — which means it’s essential for those who care about these issues to contact their representatives, attend town hall meetings, and speak out about their concerns.

There’s no reason to see litigation and other steps aimed at reining in an out of control presidency as an either-or choice.  What’s needed is action on all fronts.  The one bad decision would be to allow apathy or an understandable feeling of being overwhelmed by this unprecedented presidency to accept what is unacceptable: An administration unconstrained by the rule of law and emboldened to make the United States look more like a banana republic than a constitutional democracy.

Chris Edelson is an assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs. His latest book,  Power Without Constraint: The Post 9/11 Presidency and National Security , was published in 2016 by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Advertisements

Kommentar verfassen

Bitte logge dich mit einer dieser Methoden ein, um deinen Kommentar zu veröffentlichen:

WordPress.com-Logo

Du kommentierst mit Deinem WordPress.com-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Twitter-Bild

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Twitter-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Facebook-Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Facebook-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Google+ Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Google+-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Verbinde mit %s