Donald Trump and the Double-Plus Imperial Presidency

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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate