Another Rose Garden Meltdown

Comemntary on yesterday’s long expected development is basically divided into 2 main threads.

First is- ZOMG! Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio could win given this Supreme Court! He really can’t because it not just the broad challenges on Constitutionality which are true and precedented, but also the thousands of small lawsuits by Landowners many of whom would just as soon shoot any Government agent who trespasses on their property and have the arsenals to do it. It will kill Republican electoral chances with their most ardent voters and donors. There will be a lot of internal pushback from the Pentagon too because they hate it when you take away their monies, and from those fearful of a Democrat taking away the aforementioned arsenals.

The second focuses on how unhinged and weak Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio looked and the damage he has done to any argument that there is an “Emergency” at the Southern Border except for the Humanitarian one Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio created himself with his Racist policies.

That second line of argument is really the focus of this piece by Spencer Ackerman, a real nice guy and who’s mother I had a chance to sit next to (well, one seat away- TMC was actually next to her) at a presentation by Jeremy Scahill that he moderated. As I recall it was the one for Dirty Wars and Scahill’s introduction to the Q&A was horrifying.

Not that Ackerman doesn’t cover the first thread, I’ll try and elide the boring bits.

Trump Just Put His Own National Emergency Declaration in Legal Jeopardy
Spencer Ackerman and Scott Bixby, Daily Beast

Although President Trump has threatened for weeks to declare a national emergency to build a border wall, his announcement of that emergency on Friday exposed a lack of even basic planning for an act that crosses a constitutional Rubicon.

Officials at the major U.S. agencies that will implement the declaration were unable to identify how it will operate in practice. Legislators overseeing those agencies said they had been told nothing. And legal observers were stunned that Trump himself made an admission likely to set the federal courts on a path to reckoning with their credibility—if not the integrity of the constitutional system itself.

“I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” Trump said about a declaration with the potential to redefine the relationship between the presidency and Congress.

That admission, said Liza Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, could dramatically complicate the Trump administration’s standing once the emergency declaration ends up in the courts.

“If the courts are being asked to review whether or not there’s a real emergency here, and the president is on record saying, essentially, ‘No,’ that’s pretty significant,” said Goitein. “Even a court inclined to be deferential will have to take note of this admission.

In his Rose Garden address, the president said that illegal crossings across an unguarded border were increasing, with coyotes smuggling duct-taped women and girls being sold into sexual slavery, along with massive amounts of fentanyl. But non-government experts in the field told The Daily Beast that the president’s statistics appear to come out of the clear blue sky and government sources refused to provide data that would underpin Trump’s assertions.

“Not even the most conservative organizations on immigration policy have ever come close to calculating an estimate that high and to date the White House has shown no source for their estimates,” said Meg Wiehe, deputy director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “All of the research I have seen has clearly shown that the number of undocumented immigrants has been steadily falling each year.”

The president’s own answers on the sources of his data were not illuminating either.

“I get my numbers from a lot of sources, like Homeland Security primarily, and the numbers that I have from Homeland Security are a disaster,” Trump said.

Those sources, according to those who work in the field, are either bad at their math or don’t exist.

“The president has a history of throwing around numbers that even the most extreme hard liners have a hard time defending,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, director of immigration research at the Fiscal Policy Institute. “Researchers have now had decades—more time than anyone ever imagined—to estimate how many undocumented immigrants there are in the United States. The very broad consensus is that the number today is around 11 million.”

Requests for clarification made to the Department of Homeland Security, whose own reports directly contradict each of the president’s assertions, were not answered. The Department of Justice, which oversees the Drug Enforcement Agency, referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security. And the White House did not return a request for the sources of the president’s statistics.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), the chairman of the HASC subcommittee on readiness, told The Daily Beast that the projects that could be affected stretch from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina—both of which sustained damage during the recent hurricane season—to Travis Air Force Base in California, which was awaiting a new hangar to house the planes that are coming online. Garamendi said removing money from the drug interdiction program was particularly concerning.

“Almost all of the drugs go through the Central American countries now. Pulling money out of that is just the height of, I’ll just say ignorance, to say nothing of hubris,” he said. “If you are building a wall to stop the drug trade, wouldn’t you want to stop it in Colombia and Central America before it ever gets to the shores of America or to the border.”

“What are they thinking?” he said, then quickly concluded, “Well, they’re not.”

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Calif.), who chairs the armed services committee, called Trump’s declaration “appalling” and said that Trump’s Rose Garden line about military construction not “seem[ing] too important to me” showed disrespect to the military.

“It is clear that there is no national emergency—only a manufactured crisis—and there has been no attempt to explain how the wall has anything to do with supporting U.S. military needs, as the law intends,” Smith said Friday. “From the beginning, President Trump’s obsession over a border wall has been based on misguided anti-immigrant fervor, not U.S. national security. The American people are utterly opposed to this gimmick, and President Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

A more notable conversion came from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has for weeks urged the president to avoid putting congressional Republicans in the position of defending an emergency declaration, which many conservatives view as a dangerous overreach of executive power and a bad precedent to set for the likelihood of a future Democratic president. But when President Trump threatened to start another politically disastrous shutdown over funding for the border wall, it was McConnell himself who announced that a deal had been made and that he would support an emergency declaration.

Previously, Trump had teased the possibility of declaring a national emergency for weeks, while saying it was his “absolute right” to make such a proclamation.

That too could complicate his current legal standing. Goitein told The Daily Beast that using the possibility of a declaration of emergency as a negotiating tactic “turns the entire purpose of emergency powers on its head,” and could backfire in court.

“The purpose of emergency powers is to give the president added flexibility when Congress doesn’t have time to act,” Goitein said. “The president not getting his way is not a national emergency.”