The End of a Lawless Presidency
That didn’t take long. Within a week of being sworn in, President Donald Trump committed such a brazen violation of one of America’s founding principles that the judiciary quickly stepped in to uphold the Constitution and stop the president from breaking the law.
Trump’s immediate assault on the Constitution fulfilled the promise he repeatedly made to supporters during his campaign that he would ban Muslims from entering the country as soon as he became president.
Those promises were so widely known, Trump looked even more dishonest than usual claiming a ban on citizens traveling from seven majority-Muslim nations and all refugees had nothing at all to do with their religion.
Virtually everyone in America knows Trump is lying. Trump’s hateful anti-Muslim supporters know it. And his appalled opponents certainly know it as well, seeing it as an outrageous violation of religious freedom in America.
It’s tempting to say the only people who don’t recognize Trump’s fundamental dishonesty are Republicans in the U.S. Senate and Congress, but, of course, that’s not true either.
In fact, many Republican leaders in both houses previously denounced Trump for proposing the religious ban, calling it unconstitutional and un-American. That was before their bigoted nominee won the presidency.
Once again, House Speaker Paul Ryan shamelessly reversed what he claimed was a deeply held moral objection to a political position taken by Trump, whom he once identified as a textbook example of a racist.
“This is not conservatism,” Ryan said back in December 2015, the day after Trump first proposed the Muslim ban. “What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and more importantly it’s not what this country stands for.”
But since Trump became president that Muslim ban has suddenly become what Ryan and Republicans stand for after all. “President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country,” Ryan now says.
Many other Republicans no longer remember what they once found so deplorable about banning Muslims. When Ryan denounced the ban, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence tweeted: “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.” That was Vice President Pence standing behind Trump smiling when he signed the ban.
Religious Discrimination is Unconstitutional
Apparently, none of the intellectual rednecks surrounding Trump in the White House realize the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.
That left it up to Acting Attorney General Sally Yates to break the news to Trump. Until Trump’s own attorney general is confirmed, Yates’ responsibility was to provide Trump with her best legal advice and she did. She informed the president that Justice Department attorneys could not defend Trump’s Muslim ban because she was not convinced it was lawful.
In 1973, Nixon ordered the firing of a special prosecutor for subpoenaing Oval Office tapes proving Nixon’s guilt in covering up White House involvement in the Watergate burglary. The attorney general and deputy attorney general refused and resigned in protest. An underling, Robert Bork, fired the prosecutor.
Republican presidents don’t like being told they’re breaking the law, especially when they are.
Federal courts around the country have confirmed Yates’ legal judgment by knocking down parts of Trump’s travel ban. A sweeping order by Seattle Federal Judge James Robart, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, halted Trump’s travel ban nationwide.
Trump immediately belittled Robart as a “so-called judge” who was putting the nation in peril by allowing terrorists to pour into the U.S. unchecked.
It’s another outrageous Trump whopper. Those from Muslim countries with visas to enter the U.S. already have undergone up to two years of extreme vetting. Trump has never said what additional vetting needs to be done. Terrorism experts also say no one in the U.S. has ever been killed by anyone from the seven Muslim countries Trump wants to ban.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, something of an authority on “stop and frisk” racial profiling, bragged in a TV interview Trump asked him how to legally impose a Muslim ban. He said he advised Trump to claim it was to protect national security, not to target Muslims.
But Trump himself then undermined Giuliani’s legal subterfuge by appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network to say his ban would give priority to minority Christians in the seven targeted countries seeking to enter the U.S. over Muslims.
Bad news for an ADHD president, the legal appeals process leading to an ultimate decision by the U.S. Supreme Court can be long and complicated.
Even worse news for Trump, as Nixon learned when his own Supreme Court unanimously ordered him to release those incriminating White House tapes, even so-called Republican Supreme Court justices take a dim view of lawless presidents openly defying the country’s so-called Constitution.