Let’s set aside our views on specific issues, political opinion, and party affiliation. We all share a common interest in preserving our freedom. Understand that some news publishers may choose to focus on stories their readers want to hear in pursuit of profit. Journalists are fallible. So, look at the evidence and check the sources. We should also consider the analysis and opinion of experts. Some of us want changes in the government, but we must also respect the Constitution making such changes possible and agreeable to the people. Let’s focus on the evidence and expert analysis concerning recent events in the US, in particular the EO on immigration/travel ban and the president’s conflict of interest.
As you recall from your elementary education (or Schoolhouse Rock!), the US government balances the power with three branches: Executive, Judicial, and Congress. Respect for the US Constitution means each branch should respect the others.
Conflict of interest
The US Constitution includes “emoluments” clause to ensure federal officials serve only the interests of the people. Congress may authorize a transaction. By owning business in other countries, the president is in violation. In a press conference, Donald Trump stated management of Trump Organization would be turned over to his son, appoint an ethics officer to review new domestic deals, and any proceeds from foreign dignitaries would be donated to the people. However, none of this satisfies the clause. Trump may profit from foreign interests without congressional oversight.
The Executive Order for the seven-nation immigration ban doesn’t include countries where Trump Organization has business interests. See Who Hasn’t Trump Banned? People From Places Where He’s Done Business - NYTimes
- CREW Sues Trump Over Emoluments
- Foreign Payments to Trump Firms Violate Constitution, Suit Will Claim - NYTimes
- Executive Order: ETHICS COMMITMENTS BY EXECUTIVE BRANCH APPOINTEES - White House, 28 Jan 2017
- Donald Trump’s News Conference: Full Transcript and Video - NYTimes
- Trump Is Violating the Constitution - Cole, NYBooks.com
“I don’t see how this in the slightest bit avoids a conflict of interest,” said Frederick J. Tansill, a trust and estates lawyer from Virginia who examined the documents at the request of The New York Times. “First it is revocable at any time, and it is his son and his chief financial officer who are running it.”
Several lawyers, ACLU, and others questioned if the White House’s Executive Order (EO) on immigration given January 27th, and implementation of those orders over the weekend, are unconstitutional. There are also concerns about using religion as a test (Trump mentioned Christians would be given priority), confusion on green card holders or other details, and ethical concerns about turning away refugees back to the terrorism they fled. At least one deportation happened. Hearing the ACLU’s complaint on January 28th, a federal judge granted an emergency stay allowing approved refugees and valid visa holders of affected countries having already arrived as “legally authorized to enter the United States.”
“The judge’s order is that they (lawful visa/green card holders) not be removed from the US – it doesn’t immediately order that they be released from detention,” - Trump told CNN
With little preparation and contridictary statements, confusion fell upon the CBP agents. “Before the President issued the order, the White House did not seek the legal guidance of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that interprets the law for the executive branch, according to a source familiar with the process.” - CNN The White House did confer with DHS, however DHS interpreted as all legal permanent residence would be allowed entry. The White House, assumed from Steve Bannon, ordered otherwise CNN. Senators McCain and Graham issued a statement saying, “It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump’s executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.”
“Refugees must undergo an extensive vetting process – it typically takes more than two years to be admitted to the United States as a refugee.” - CNN The chosen countries do not include countries where Donald Trump has business interests, and since he retains ownership, this is “conflict of interest.” - CNN: “How the Trump administration chose the 7 countries in the immigration executive order” Fareed Zakaria shares a few thoughts. The move also puts US troops in danger and our national security at risk due to “halting the acceptance of Iraqi translaters into the United States” as noted by IAVA. Caught by surprise, the Pentagon moves to get “some Iraqis special consideration” such as translaters and others fighting with our troops. (The Washington Post). Our allies need training in the US to better fight terror. Denying strategic aid is irresponsible and unproductive.
Virginia issued a temporary restraining order concerning Dulles International Airport “by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, also says that anyone detained at the airport should have access to a lawyer.” - via AP, The Washington Times
Washington State Attorney General, Ferguson, argues that “Executive Order violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of Equal Protection and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, infringes individuals’ constitutional right to Due Process and contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.” - Washington State Office of Attorney General
On January 30th, Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, declared this EO as indefensible, unconstitutional and told lawyers not to defend it (@CNNSitRoom video). In response for Yates defending the constitution, Trump quickly fired her, which is fine. However, the manner and words used to attack Yates is disrespectful. White House statement (Chicago Sun Times), “The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” Of course, Yates didn’t betray DoJ as she was doing her job. Note the misuse of the word, legal. The order was just declared illegal which is why Trump fired Yates. It goes on to say, “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.” Calling anyone you disagree with “weak” or “very weak” is insulting. Overall, the White House statement reads as unprofessional and is disrespectful.
The White House must observe the Judiciary Branch to respect the Constitution.
- CNN: “Full text of Trump’s executive order on 7-nation ban, refugee suspension”
- District Judge, Ann Donnely order 28 Jan 2017
- Temporary Restraining order from US District Court, VA, 28 Jan 2017 via NYTimes
- Federal court order to return deported individual - US District Court, CA, 29 Jan 2017
- Re: This weekend’s events at Dulles International Airport - AG, VA, 29 Jan 2017
- AG Ferguson Seeks Halt to Trump’s Immigration Executive Order - AG, WA, 30 Jan 2017
- Motion for Temporary Restraining Order - AG, WA, 30 Jan 2017
- Rudy Guliani interview on YouTube calling it a “Muslim ban” starting at 3-minute mark.
- CNN Producer files lawsuit against EO for being detained (ajc.com)
Update: Federal judge issues temporary restraining order halting much of the EO on 3 Feb followed by responses on Twitter.
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!
— @realDonaldTrump 4 Feb 2017
Saying “so-called” is not only disprespectful, but worse than that as stated by Evan McMullin:
Disagreeing with a court decision is fine, but undermining the legitimacy of a judge and the Judiciary Branch is a threat to the Republic.
- @Evan_McMullin 4 Feb 2017
Appeals court denied request for emergency motion of stay pending an appeal (Reuters).
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!
— @realDonaldTrump 4 Feb 2017
Dean Obeidallah says, “Trump is apparently attempting to delegitimize our federal judiciary” in “Donald Trump’s most bone-chilling tweet” (CNN). Trump shows intent to blame the Judicial branch for anything bad happening in the future. If an attack happens, and enough supporters become angry at our justice system, we could have a strong division, riots, or worse.
- State of Washington et al v. Donald J Trump et al - 3 Feb 2017
- Motion for stay pending appeal - 4 Feb 2017
- US Court of Appeals ruling on Trump’s immigration executive order - 9 Feb 2017
White House and “alternative facts”
Trump advisor, Steve Bannon, to sit on National Security Council replacing more qualified persons. John McCain points out that “The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history.” (npr.org) It’s odd, perhaps unwise, but not illegal. How much involvement will Bannon have? What is the intent?
“I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
— Steve Bannon interviewed by Sarah Kendzior on The Daily Beast
You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.
— Donald Trump, Fox News 2014
Donald Trump has been straight-up telling lies about even the most frivolous issues, such as crowd sizes (NYTimes) or offending the CIA (Huffington Post) then claiming it was a media lie (see video - mirror.co.uk) . This propaganda causes confusion to incite protests. Media coverage may be later attacked or used to try and discredit journalists. Obvious lies also reveal the loyalists repeating them, and the ones challenging the falsehoods. The media should be careful not to let Trump’s lies and “fake news” accusations turn into a war.
For Trump, “alternative facts” are a balm to his fragile ego. He has claimed record turnout at his inauguration and insisted his talk at the CIA brought more applause than Peyton Manning winning the Super Bowl. This is alarming as it shows a president either not in full control of his faculties or so narcissistic that creating an alternate reality to serve his ego overrides his desire to serve the public.
— Sarah Kendzior, The Guardian
Donald Trump looks similar to the character in It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis about the rise of fascism in a America. A vulgar, habitual liar making idiotic promises earned the praise of the disgruntled and used his power for greed. Andrew Sullivan pointed out this comparison in his essay, “Democracies end when they are too democratic” (NY Mag, 16 May, 2016) and also shows how Trump uses current movements in the US to rise to power. Sullivan says, “In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event.”
Here, now, what will you do?
You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light.
— Sarah Kendzior, The Correspondent
Check the evidence. Read. Share information. Question and criticize, respectfully. You may need to decide between “following orders” and doing what’s best for your country. Respect the law. Respect the Constitution. What will you do?
History happens now, and today’s decisions define tomorrow.
In “Chill America, Not Every Trump Outrage is Outrages” (Washington Post), Tom Nichols reminds us to avoid “overreaction and hysteria, which not only cloud important questions but in the short term paradoxically play to the president’s advantage.”