Has Trump’s sending of anonymous federal troops into Portland concerned you? Angered you? It certainly should.
In today’s New York Times, former presidential candidate and former Democratic senator from Colorado Gary Hart asks “How Powerful Is the President?” And what he has to say isn’t likely to help you sleep tonight.
He discusses the secret presidential powers alluded to by Trump’s comment: “I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.”
What little we know about these secret powers comes from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, but we believe they may include suspension of habeas corpus, surveillance, home intrusion, arrest without a judicial warrant, collective if not mass arrests and more; some could violate constitutional protections.
Follow Hart’s link to the Brennan Center and the third paragraph begins:
Presidential declarations of national emergency are governed by the National Emergencies Act, which went into effect in 1978. Under this law, the president has significant discretion to declare a national emergency; there are no statutory limitations, beyond the word “emergency” itself, on what type of event qualifies.
Elsewhere the Brennan Center lists “The 136 statutory powers that may become available to the president upon declaration of a national emergency.”
It all appears to mean that with a wave of his Sharpie pen, Trump can define and declare a “national emergency” and take whatever action he deems necessary to deal with it. Congress and the Constitution be damned.
Sleep well, citizens. Your president is in charge.