A Judge Tells Trump That He Is Not a King; The President Is Not So Sure

(WAB NEWS) – Donald Trump is not going to like his lesson in Constitution 101: "Presidents are not kings."

The surprising reprimand of a federal judge of the White House on Monday came as a result of a case of House Democrats to force former White House lawyer Don McGahn to testify. But it serves as a thematic framework for an entire presidency that has never complied with the rules.

All Trump scandals are merging into a momentous fight for his staggeringly broad claims of expansive presidential power. It turns out that he will shape his personal political legacy, the nature of the position he has held for almost three years and, potentially, the American political system itself.

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The battle of the impeachment on the issue of Ukraine, Trump's efforts to keep Americans in the dark about his financial past, the pending questions of Russia's report by special lawyer Robert Mueller and Trump's determination to rule as a commander Undisputed boss now boil down to two simple questions.

How much power does a president have? And how long can the government institutions he has incessantly challenged bear his instinctive but often erratic executive power?

The White House withdrew on Monday from its last battles for presidential power with a defeat, a temporary victory and a lot of new legal battles.

McGahn, to testify

Don McGahn

At the beginning of a frantic half hour in Washington on Monday night, federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ordered McGahn to testify before the House of Representatives, who has been trying to force his appearance since April over Mueller's findings that suggest Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of Russia. Jackson dismissed the president's claim that McGahn was subject to general immunity.

Turning to the basics that most Americans learn in school, the judge cited Founding Fathers James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville to explain the nature of the presidency.

"Simply put, the main conclusion of the last 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings," Jackson wrote.

"It is indisputable that current and former White House employees work for the people of the United States and take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," the judge added.

The Justice Department quickly said it planned to appeal the ruling, which has profound implications for the political trial investigation, as Trump has launched a similar effort to prevent administration officials from testifying under another claim of presidential immunity.

Although after five days of public hearings in the political trial investigation, public opinion about whether the president should be removed and removed from office remains exactly the same as in October, according to a new CNN survey conducted by SSRS.

Minutes after Jackson's legal conference emerged, Trump won a kind of victory, as the Supreme Court blocked the immediate disclosure of his financial records to a House committee, to allow his lawyers to present a brief discussion arguing why The nine judges should take the case.

The legal fight is likely to create another precedent about the nature of the presidential power, as it will prove whether a president can reject the legal request of Congress from the president's financial records, a job that can be imposed on regular US citizens.

Trump against the Pentagon

Mark Esper

The legal drama broke out on a day when Washington was already debating the scope of presidential authority.

This time it was a confrontation between a president who never complies with the rules and an institution, the army, which cannot exist without them.

Trump's armor to the Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who had posed with the body of a young ISIS fighter, led to a bewildering set of events that have not yet been explained and the dismissal of another senior official, the Secretary of the Marina Richard Spencer

This moment was the turn of the Pentagon to be trampled by Trump, casting a shadow over the rule of law in the search for a great personal victory, and pleasant for his political base.

Like the State Department, the Department of Justice and the intelligence community, the fortress throughout Potomac found that traditions, rules and decorum mean little to the President. In a sense, the controversy actually offered Washington some relief on Monday from the relentless drama of political judgment that has dominated the last two months.

But at its root, the new storm shares an issue with accusations that Trump abused his power and went behind the back of US diplomats to obtain a political reward from Ukraine.

In both cases, Trump seems to have used his authority as president to benefit his re-election campaign instead of safeguarding a traditional interpretation of American interests. In the case of Gallagher, he ignored the structure of military justice. In Ukraine, he built another channel to obtain political help from a foreign power in defiance of the regular channels of the State Department.

Trump's full time in office could be seen as a struggle between the rules and customs that govern the presidency and his attempts to stretch those barriers to his limits.

This has led to constant tension between the executive, the courts and Congress, especially when a House led by Democrats seeks to honor its oversight and investigation function.

Trump claims his political reward

Richard Spencer

There is no doubt that Trump, as commander in chief, has the power to reverse Gallagher's degradation and to forgive two other soldiers accused of war crimes, as he did last week.

But the question is: Does your action serve the military, the reputation of the military and women of the United States and the image of the nation as a land of laws and military honor?

Gallagher was subjected to a rigorous military legal process. He was acquitted of attempted murder, premeditated murder and obstruction of justice. It is difficult to argue that he did not receive due process and fair treatment from the military.

But Trump left little doubt in an exchange with journalists on Monday afternoon that he was seeking a political reward for ordering Defense Secretary Mark Esper to restore Gallagher's rank.

“I think what I am doing is defending our armed forces. And there has never been a president who defends them and has done it, like me, ”Trump said.

Trump has acute political instincts. He knows that supporting troops is rarely a bad policy. Critics of Trump's behavior run the risk of being accused of sidelining a dead terrorist over a certified American war hero.

“He was a great fighter. He was one of the best fighters. A tough guy. These are not weak people. These are tough people, ”Trump said Monday.

However, there is dismay at Trump's action among high-ranking military officers within the Pentagon, who see it as an undermining of the entire military justice code, Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne of CNN reported.

It raises the possibility that Trump may choose to intervene every time a member of the US service is accused of committing war crimes, leading to a culture of impunity in the ranks.

But no one could say that Trump's support for Gallagher is misplaced. Throughout his life in business and his political career, he has treated the law and the rules of behavior as an inconvenience that must be extended in order for him to get his way.

"I don't think we should lose sight of the central point here," Ray Mabus, who served as a secretary of the Navy in the Obama administration, told Brooke Baldwin of CNN on Monday.

"None of this would have happened, not even a little, if the President had not been inserted, in an absolutely inappropriate way, in a way that undermines military justice in a way that dishonors the military they serve without committing war crimes," he added. .

Spencer, meanwhile, left a resignation letter in which he presented the extraordinary accusation that the president is abusing his powers, a warning that applies to any number of disputes that are unleashed in Washington.

"I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, regarding the key principle of good order and discipline," he wrote. "I cannot, in good conscience, obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I made in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States."

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