By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) Following his impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump wasted little time evicting Executive Branch employees and officials who helped Democrats plot the proceedings in the first place.
The ouster and reassignment of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key impeachment witness, from the National Security Council, his twin brother NSC lawyer and Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, and some others were only the latest in a string of White House ‘casualties.’
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And more than anything else, Trump didn’t get rid of them simply because they were “disloyal;” like several before the Vindmans, the president has steadily been cleaning house, so to speak, practically since the day he was inaugurated.
This, combined with the president’s complaints about the absurd sentencing recommendation of 7 to 9 years for ally Roger Stone, has Democrats both complaining about “expansive” use of executive power and authority, coupled with threats of a new impeachment — though, like the first, it would political because the president hasn’t violated any laws.
The [White House] counselâ€™s office had hoped Trump would move on, too, after the Senate trial and the president would focus on reelection, the economy or the business of governing, now that he no longer faced the intense pressure of impeachment and the sense that Democrats were out to hurt him and his family.
But Trump had his own ideas. In the days since that acquittal he has engaged in a full-bore revenge victory lap. Now the lawyers, who helped to secure that big victory, are watching the emboldened president push the boundaries of their profession in ways that could reshape the office of the presidency for decades to come.
Trump has fired or pushed out White House staffers who testified against him in the House proceedings, while elevating or re-hiring key aides who he views as loyal. He reminded the attorney general over Twitter that he believes he has the right to interfere in judicial matters â€” an awkward situation for Cipollone, who remains close to Bill Barr. Trump said in a radio interview he may stop the longstanding practice of having aides listen in on phone calls with foreign leaders since he distrusts so much of his national security staff.
Trumpâ€™s expansive view of executive power, long supported by conservatives like Cipollone, is now being put to the test. Trump survived both the Mueller probe and impeachment. He has received almost no pushback from Republican lawmakers. And the White Houseâ€™s stonewalling of congressional investigations has proven to be politically effective.
â€œIt is beyond anything the presidency has achieved yet and beyond anything Nixon could have imagined,â€ Michael Gerhardt, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina School of Law whose work centers on constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress, told POLITICO. â€œThere is literally no way to hold the president accountable in Pat Cipolloneâ€™s worldview.â€
He’s kidding, right?
It’s comical to read this Leftist characterization of Trump’s use of executive power, as though he’s the first one to do so — to ‘push boundaries’ in some unique way never before undertaken by presidents.
In fact, the Executive Branch has enjoyed “expanded” powers for decades, many of them enabled by Democrats at periods in our history when they held majorities in both chambers of Congress.
In fact, for four decades before Republicans under Newt Gingrich retook the House majority in 1994 thanks to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s overtly Left-wing overreach on guns and healthcare, it was the Democrat Party that passed ambiguous legislation time and again that left a lot of discretion to the Executive Branch.
Translation: They empowered presidents over the Legislative Branch because it was politically easier for them to blame the Executive for policy failures than take the heat themselves.
And now, Democrats bellyache when Trump merely exercises the same authority that Obama and every president in the modern era did. It’s absurd.
In fact, no less than The New York Times, the Left’s media Bible, reported in the weeks before Obama left office, “Once Skeptical of Executive Power, Obama Has Come to Embrace It.” To wit:
In nearly eight years in office, President Obama has sought to reshape the nation with a sweeping assertion of executive authority and a canon of regulations that have inserted the United States government more deeply into American life.
Once a presidential candidate with deep misgivings about executive power, Mr. Obama will leave the White House as one of the most prolific authors of major regulations in presidential history.
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Blocked for most of his presidency by Congress, Mr. Obama has sought to act however he could. In the process he created the kind of government neither he nor the Republicans wanted â€” one that depended on bureaucratic bulldozing rather than legislative transparency. But once Mr. Obama got the taste for it, he pursued his executive power without apology, and in ways that will shape the presidency for decades to come.
Sound familiar? We thought so too.