Congressional oversight

President Trump’s decision not to host the G7 Summit at his Doral golf resort was not only prudent, it also reflects an important lesson for his supporters in Congress and elsewhere. They can stand with him by opposing impeachment charges in the House and blocking a conviction in the Senate, or they can resist his problematic behavior in the first place and prevent him from creating grounds for impeachment.

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According to the New York Times, it is unlikely that federal prosecutors will bring any other charges related to the “hush money” paid by President Trump to conceal his affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

That’s the right call. Indeed, as I’ve written before, prosecutors never should have filed charges against Trump lawyer Michael Cohen over the payments.


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Today’s New York Times reports that another member of Congress, Katie Porter (D-CA), has called for impeachment, citing the “constitutional crisis” provoked by President Donald Trump. According to Porter, echoing statements made by Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and other members of Congress, we have a crisis because of Trump’s misconduct, especially his failure to comply with congressional requests for documents and other information.

At some point, Trump’s disregard of the law may amount to a constitutional crisis, but we’re not there yet. In fact, with respect to the requests for information, the President is acting in many ways as the Founding Fathers expected.


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Punitive tariffs, arms sales, border wall funding, and more. Donald Trump regularly finds ways to pursue his policy preferences over the clear opposition of Congress. This is especially troubling since decisions on these matters are properly within the constitutional authority of the legislative branch.

As many political observers have observed, Congress has abdicated its policy making responsibilities by delegating immense amounts of power to the executive branch, and it needs to assert its authority and live up to its constitutional role. But while it is correct to promote a return to core constitutional values, we cannot rely on the virtue of our elected officials to do the right thing. Congress has defaulted on his constitutional duties for more than a century; there is no reason to think it will change. Indeed, our Constitution is premised on that reality.


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Members of Congress have good cause to worry about the extent to which President Trump ignores legal constraints. But they also have given him plenty of authority to impose his will lawfully. Yesterday’s announcement of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries is illustrative. Even though the Constitution does not grant Presidents the power to make arms deals on their own, Congress has done so.

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Can President Trump shield the redacted portions of the Mueller Report, prevent former White House Counsel Don McGahn from turning over documents, or deny other information to Congress by claiming executive privilege? Like many other legal questions, the devil is in the details.

The Supreme Court has addressed executive privilege, but not to a great extent, and it has established general principles rather than clear rules. A few considerations are important.


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