Why Trump Rolling The Dice On A National Emergency To Get His Wall Is Not A Sucker Bet
There Are Only Two Ways Trump Loses. And He’s Got Decent Odds Of Winning Them Both.
We thought it was telling when the President announced a national emergency in order to get his wall, he went into great detail about how it would likely play out in the courts, but made no mention of the possibility Congress might block him from doing it. Because Trump’s biggest affront in declaring the emergency is to Congress: if Trump now does build his wall based on a unilateral declaration, which allows him to allocate funds to himself, nothing Congress does in the future will mean anything if the President doesn’t like it, or he just decides he wants to do something else. Yet Trump’s apparently so convinced Congress won’t stand up to him, he doesn’t even bother bringing them up.
But the 1st way Trump could lose is Congress stopping the very action he just took, and later passing legislation to take back some of the emergency powers they’ve ceded to the President over the years.
Quick refresher: the Constitution explicitly and exclusively gives Congress the right to raise and spend money; like for building a wall, or not. Also the Constitution makes the Legislative branch (Congress) equal to the Executive branch (President), not subservient to it.
And the Democrat-controlled House will pass a bill in the coming days undoing Trump’s national emergency declaration, forcing a vote on that in the Republican-controlled Senate. But even if it passes in the Senate (which it might), Trump will veto it. So then Congress would have to override Trump’s veto, which is a much taller order because it requires a 2/3rds majority. That means 67 Senators would have to vote to override. That means 20 Republican Senators. And many of those same Senators have spent the last 2 years repeatedly enabling Trump (except curiously did not pass wall funding even when they controlled both the House and Senate). So why would they stop now? The answer should be obvious: in going along with the President, they are allowing him to take the power away from them they now hold, forever weakening an institution of which they are a part, and are supposed to defend.
But maybe they see supporting Trump’s declaration in order to get his pet project done as just a formality since they’ve already — long ago — sunk into the role of Trump’s lackey. We tend to see it as somebody willfully and willingly cutting off their own appendage (you decide which one) so as not to appear to be a threat to their superior.
One quick side note: one of the sources of funds the White House is apparently looking at is monies resulting from civil forfeiture of cash and goods from alleged drug dealers. And Trump’s got his otherwise reviled former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to thank for that. In 2017, several Congresspeople moved to curtail civil forfeiture after Sessions expanded it, because it allows federal authorities to seize property from suspected criminals and keep it, even if the person they arrest is found not guilty, and even if they are never charged with a crime. This is one of those issues championed by both the far-left and far-right. But the Justice Department and White House prevailed, and the amendments addressing it never passed.
Another quick side note: On Fox News, Chris Wallace asked top Trump advisor Stephen Miller a very simple question. In the 59 times Presidents have declared national emergencies:
“Can you point to a single incident — even one — where the President asked congress for money, Congress refused to give him that money, and the President then invoked national emergency powers to get the money?”
Here’s that segment with Miller’s non-answer (click on the photo to watch):
Wallace also goes on to point out that Presidents have only invoked national emergencies for military construction two times before: by the first President Bush during the Gulf War, and by the second President Bush immediately following 9/11. Miller makes the argument that since Congress did give Trump a little money for his wall, they’re not against using money to build a wall, which seems trivial, but could be an important part of the Administration’s legal argument going forward.
So now we move on to the 2nd way Trump could lose: the 3rd equal branch of government: the Judicial branch (the courts).
Trump actually does a pretty good job of laying out how this’ll play out probably. (If he wasn’t so darn sing-songy!) Watch him explain:
16 states are already suing in the 9th Circuit. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will decide. And Trump’s hoping having a couple of “his guys” on the court now will give him an edge. And maybe it will. Here’s how Trump puts it:
“Probably the easiest one to win is on declaring a national emergency, because we’re declaring it for virtual invasion purposes”.
And as we’ve discussed a bunch of times, Trump’s been extraordinarily lucky in his life and his career. Every time he or one of his businesses has faced disaster, either a fortuitous coincidence, or someone coming along at the just the right moment to help him out, have put him back on the path to success. Whether it was a bankruptcy settlement that turned out being very favorable to him, or “The Apprentice”.
Those Democrats and some Republicans who’ve been pointing out or warning that if Trump “wins” this one, there’s nothing to stop a Democratic President if one comes along from declaring a national emergency on greenhouse gasses or gun control?
Well, yes. But, no. Because even if you get a President who gives you things you want and like when they override Congress, you’ll still then be living in an authoritarian state.