Donald Trump and the Double-Plus Imperial Presidency

Remember this? Those were some good times, weren't they?Scott Stantis/Chicago Tribune

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It’s a slow Monday, so everybody is yakking about President Trump’s insistence that he can pardon himself and Rudy Giuliani’s insistence that Trump could gun down Robert Mueller at high noon and not be indicted for it. Whatever. But this is really the weird one:

Huh. If I recall correctly, it was Trump’s own Department of Justice that appointed Mueller. Or, as Trump now likes to call it, the Department of “Justice.” In any case, I wonder who filled his brain with the notion that appointing a special prosecutor is unconstitutional? Ronald Reagan tried this wheeze and was batted down by the Supreme Court 8-1. Scooter Libby tried it a few years ago and was also batted down. Was Dinesh D’Souza on Fox & Friends this morning or something?

Anyway, Trump and his surrogates have now variously claimed that:

  • He cannot be indicted for anything, even murder, while he’s in office.
  • Special prosecutors are unconstitutional.
  • The president can pardon himself.
  • The president, by definition, cannot obstruct justice because he is Justice.

In other imperial presidency news, Trump has claimed that he has effectively unlimited power to socialize industry in the name of national defense, as well as unlimited power to levy tariffs on the same grounds. Isn’t that something? Do you remember the days when Republicans were outraged about President Obama’s wanton seizure of power just because he decided not to prosecute and deport kids who were brought across the border when they were infants? Seems like decades ago. Today, the rule is simpler: as long as the president keeps sending over conservative judges for confirmation, the Constitution allows him to do anything he wants.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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