Observers are correct to condemn both Russian efforts to influence our presidential elections and President Trump’s failure to reject those efforts. But it is wrong to suggest that all efforts by foreign governments to influence our elections are improper. The question is not whether other countries are trying to exert influence, but whether they are doing so by legitimate means.

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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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Two weeks ago, President Trump broke with long-standing U.S. policy when he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In January, he recognized Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, rejecting President Nicolas Máduro’s hold on power.

Where in the Constitution does it give Presidents the authority to determine American policy on territorial or leadership disputes involving other countries? Nowhere. The Constitution makes our country’s foreign and domestic policies a shared enterprise between Congress and the President.

Congress passes laws, and the President implements them. The President negotiates treaties, and the Senate ratifies them. The Framers required a sharing of power because they recognized that if elected officials can act alone, without any checks or balance, the risk is too high that the officials will abuse their power.
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