Overnight The Washington Post published a bombshell report: President Donald Trump, in an effort to ensure his re-election, has been directing aides to break the law to get his border wall built. Trump has ordered White House aides to “fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts,” and “aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules,” according to the Post, so he can fulfill a campaign promise.
To make matters worse Trump “also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly.”
Legal experts are weighing in n the news and they agree: Trump’s actions are illegal and impeachable.
The White House, in an effort to minimize the damage, has said the President was only joking when he told aides to break the law so he could cinch re-election.
Joking or not, Trump is “directing them to violate law,” as Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman notes:
Allegations by “several” witnesses that Trump directs officials to act unlawfully to increase his electoral prospects & implies he’ll pardon them. WH spokesperson response is that the pardon bit was a joke–i.e., he’s directing them to violate law *without* a prospect of pardon.
— Marty Lederman (@marty_lederman) August 28, 2019
Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown and visiting professor at Oxford notes that “Trump preemptively promising public employees a pardon makes clear that he knows what he asking them to do is illegal.”
Trump preemptively promising public employees a pardon makes clear that he knows what he asking them to do is illegal. Not a consitututional scholar here, but that seems pretty impeachable behavior. https://t.co/Pkp7gbjNHP pic.twitter.com/zIZgpKW60q
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) August 28, 2019
Ryan Goodman, a Chaired Professor NYU Law and a former Special Counsel at the Dept.of Defense offers a one-word response: “Impeachable.”
“When aides have suggested that some of his orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead….
‘Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,’ he has told officials in meetings about the wall.”https://t.co/UlYhMVFhVf
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) August 28, 2019
Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College says this is “How the rule of law dies.”
How the rule of law dies: the President “has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws” https://t.co/IYfrq2Pj2N
— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) August 28, 2019
Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law looks back to America’s founding and adds:
This was actually why the pardon power was controversial and opposed by some Anti-Federalists https://t.co/zcPRs9IeN8
— Jonathan H. Adler (@jadler1969) August 28, 2019
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe offers a two-word description: “impeachable bribery.”
Trump’s offer to pardon lawbreaking aides who seize property illegally to build his wall by Election Day is impeachable bribery. He says it’s a big joke. The joke’s on him. @SpeakerPelosi @RepJerryNadler @RepRaskin https://t.co/eXqx5tbx0K
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) August 28, 2019
Former Nixon Nixon White House Counsel John Dean gets very specific: “conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruct justice.”
If Trump’s telling aides to break the law, he will pardon them, it’s a conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruct justice in violation of 18 USC 371 not to mention an impeachable violation of his oath of office. Congress should pass a RES saying NO! https://t.co/2HgknKNOpT
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) August 28, 2019
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Trump Personally Spoke to Border Patrol Agents and Told Them to Break the Law and Lie to Judges: Report
“The President refuses to understand that the Department of Homeland Security is constrained by the laws.”
Last Friday during President Donald Trump’s visit to the Southern border he held a roundtable during which he appeared to read what he said was a new “statement,” which he directed to migrants wanting to come to the U.S. from Central America. That new policy was to tell them the United States is “full.”
TRUMP: “This is our new statement- the system is full. We can’t take you anymore. Whether it’s asylum or anything you want – illegal immigration – we can’t take you anymore. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. Turn around” pic.twitter.com/W1Bjnnf7UR
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 5, 2019
Of course, that’s false, there is plenty of room in the U.S., and in fact the current birthrate is 16% below “replacement.”
But as CNN reports, not only did Trump publicly proclaim the U.S. is full, he held private conversations “behind the scenes” with Border Patrol agents during which “the President told border agents to not let migrants in.”
That is illegal, especially if they are seeking asylum, as Secretary Nielsen had told Trump two weeks prior. The White House counsel had supported Secretary Nielsen’s reading of the law.
The President appeared to not care, as he coached the Border Patrol agents on committing an apparent illegal act.
“Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said,” CNN reports Trump said. “If judges give you trouble, say, “‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.'”
That would be a lie, and judges obviously would know it was a lie.
Once the President “left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.”
“At the end of the day,” a senior administration official told CNN, “the President refuses to understand that the Department of Homeland Security is constrained by the laws.”
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