Author: Trump’s Presidency Is A “Stress Test” On The Constitution
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Author: Trump’s Presidency Is A “Stress Test” On The Constitution

October 17, 2019


I’M SOLEDAD O’BRIEN. WELCOME TO “MATTER OF FACT.” WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP TOOK THE
OATH OF OFFICE ON JANUARY 20,
2017, HE PROMISED TO PRESERVE,
PROTECT, AND DEFEND THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. THE WORDING OF THE OATH IS
SPECIFIED IN ARTICLE TWO OF THE
CONSTITUTION, WHICH ALSO
OUTLINES THE POWERS OF THE
EXECUTIVE BRANCH. WHAT THE PRESIDENT CAN AND CAN’T
DO. SINCE TRUMP TOOK THAT OATH, HIS
PRESIDENCY HAS BEEN MIRED IN
CONSTITUTIONAL CONTROVERSIES. INCLUDING HIS EXECUTIVE ORDERS
ON IMMIGRATION, WHETHER HIS
FOREIGN BUSINESS HOLDINGS
VIOLATE THE EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE, AND ISSUES SURROUNDING SPECIAL
COUNSEL ROBERT MUELLER’S INVESTIGATION INTO RUSSIAN
MEDDLING IN THE 2016 ELECTION. SO IS THE PRESIDENT VIOLATING
THE CONSTITUTION OR TESTING THE
LIMITS OF PRESIDENTIAL POWER? COREY BRETTSCHNEIDER IS A
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
AT BROWN UNIVERSITY. HE’S ALSO THE AUTHOR OF A NEW BOOK, IT’S CALLED “THE OATH AND THE OFFICE: A GUIDE TO THE CONSTITUTION FOR
FUTURE PRESIDENTS.” IT IS SO NICE TO HAVE YOU. THANK YOU PLEASURE TO BE HERE. WHY DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEEDED
TO WRITE A GUIDE TO THE
CONSTITUTION? ANYTHING HAPPENING WITH THE
CURRENT PRESIDENT? SO YOU FELT HE COULD LEARN SOMETHING FROM THIS BOOK? YES, THE BOOK IS DIRECTED
IN PART TO FTURE PRESIDENTS,
BUT IT IS ALSO ABOUT THE CURRENT
SITUATION. AND I ORIGINALLY WAS WRITING A
BOOK CALLED TRUMP VERSUS THE
CONSTITUTION WHICH WAS A SORT OF
MORE DIRECT WAY TO DEAL WITH
MANY OF THE ISSUES COMING UP
NOW. BUT THE IDEA WAS REALLY WE NEED
TO THINK ABOUT THE BASICS, NOT
JUST FOR THE MOMENT THAT WE’RE
IN NOW, BUT FOR THE FUTURE. AND THINKING ABOUT THE OATH OF
OFFICE IN PARTICULAR WAS A WAY
TO DO THAT. IT IS A RITUAL, BUT THE
PRESIDENT SAYS THAT THE
PRESIDENT COMMITS IN THE OATH TO PROTECT PRESERVE AND DEFEND THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED
STATES. SOLEDAD: SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY
PRESIDENT TRUMP IS NOT TRYING TO
ATTACK THE CONSTITUTION, HE IS
JUST TESTING THE LIMITS OF THE
CONSTITUTION. DO THEY HAVE A POINT? COREY: I WOULD SAY IT IS A
STRESS TEST ON THE CONSTITUTION. THERE ISN’T ANYTHING THAT
GUARANTEES THESE RIGHTS WILL
REMAIN. BUT NO I THINK HE’S REALLY GONE BEYOND ANY
PREVIOUS PRESIDENT IN MANY OF THE
STATEMENTS HE’S MADE AND PROPOSALS
SOLEDAD: LIKE WHAT? COREY: IN THE CAMPAIGN,
THREATENING A SHUTDOWN OF
MUSLIMS ENTERING THE COUNTRY. THAT’S NOT AN IMPLICIT USE OF PREJUDICE AGAINST MUSLIM AMERICANS IT IS ABOUT THE MOST EXPLICIT
USE OF RACISM THAT YOU COULD GET OR OF ANTI-ISLAMIC
SENTIMENT. NOW OUR CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES
FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION, REQUIREMENT THAT GOVERNMENT NOT
ESTABLISH A —
RELIGION. I THINK THOS STATEMENTS WERE
ABOUT THE MOST CLEAR VIOLATION
OF THE CONSTITUTION YOU COULD
GET. SOLEDAD: WE’VE TALKED ABOUT THE
EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE PROBABLY THREE
OR FOUR TIMES ON THIS SHOW HE IS
MORE TIMES THAN I’VE EVER TALKED
ABOUT THE EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE THAT
I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW EXISTED PRIOR TO TWO YEARS AGO. DO YOU THINK THAT THE PRESIDENT
IS IN FACT VIOLATING THE
EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE? COREY: I DO. WHAT IT SAYS IS THAT A PRESIDENT
CAN’T USE HIS PERSON, THE
OFFICE, FOR PERSONAL PROFIT AND
BY REFUSING TO PUT HIS ASSETS IN
A BLIND TRUST AS EVERY RECENT
PRESIDENT HAS DONE AND BY HYPING UP HIS BUSINESSES IN ALL SORTS OF WAYS, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT
THE FRAMERS WORRIED ABOUT. THE IDEA THE OFFICE IS SUPPOSED TO BE A
PUBLIC TRUST, THAT ONE ACTS AS PRESIDENT IN
THE INTEREST OF THE PUBLIC GOOD. SOLEDAD: DID THE FRAMERS OF THE
CONSTITUTION CONSIDER ALL OF
THIS ALL THOSE YEARS AGO? COREY: I THINK SO. THEY TALKED ABOUT A DEMAGOGUE
WHO MIGHT BE THE OPPOSITE OF A
DELIBERATIVE PRESIDENT. AND YES I THINK THEY PREDICTED IT AND THEY TRIED TO PUT CHECKS IN PLACE OF HOW TO DEAL WITH A PRESIDENT LIKE THIS. SOLEDAD: NOW YOU ARE GETTING
INTO THE PART OF THE
CONSTITUTION I DO REMEMBER FROM
SEVENTH GRADE. IT’S ALL VERY FUZZY BUT I DO REMEMBER SOME PARTS RIGHT THAT WAS THE OTHER PARTS, THE
CHECKS AND BALANCES. SO YOU HAVE CONGRESS AND THE
COURTS. IS IT MORE THAN JUST THE
FAILURES OF A PRESIDENT AND THAT
OFFICE? IS IT THE FAILURE OF THE
CONGRESS AND THE COURTS? COREY: I THINK SO. I THINK THAT IN THAT MUSLIM BAN
CASE THAT WE TALKED ABOUT THE
COURT SPLIT WITH JUSTICE KENNEDY
GIVING A VERY AMBIGUOUS OPINION
AND ULTIMATELY SIDING WITH THE
MAJORITY AND NOT STRIKING DOWN THE MUSLIM BAN. I THINK THAT WAS A FAILURE. SOLEDAD: ONE OF THE MOST
INTERESTING THINGS IN THIS BOOK
IS ABOUT PRESIDENT NIXON, AND
JUST THE WAY IN WHICH HE ALSO
FELT THAT HE WAS ABOVE THE LAW. COREY: HE SAID THAT. HE SAID WHEN THE PRESIDENT DOES
IT, IT IS NOT ILLEGAL. SOLEDAD: PEOPLE ARE HAVING THE
SAME CONVERSATIONS TODAY. WE READ THAT AND THINK THAT
SOUNDS CRAZY, BUT THERE ARE MANY
PEOPLE WHO SAY YOU CAN’T INDICT
SITTING PRESIDENT. THAT WHEN THE PRESIDENT DOES SOMETHING BECAUSE HE’S THE PRESIDENT IT’S NOT ILLEGAL. COREY: ONE OF THE GREAT MOMENTS
IN AMERICAN HISTORY IS WHEN THE
SUPREME COURT SAID TO RICHARD
NIXON THAT HE HAD TO ANSWER A
SUBPOENA FOR INFORMATION IN A
CRIMINAL CASE AND HE WASN’T ABOVE THE LAW. THAT WAS A UNANIMOUS OPINION. THAT WAS ONE OF THE SHINING
LIGHTS IN OUR HISTORY THAT WE SHOULD TURN TO. THE FRAMERS DISAGREED ABOUT
WHETHER YOU COULD INDICT A
SITTING PRESIDENT. HAMILTON THOUGHT YOU HAD TO WAIT
UNTIL AFTER THE PRESIDENT HAD
LEFT OFFICE. JAMES WILSON THOUGHT YOU COULD
DO IT. AND I THINK A SIMPLE PRINCIPLE
DECIDES THAT THAT THAT
CONTROVERSY AND THE PRINCIPLE IS
THAT WHEN A PRESIDENT DOES IT IT
CAN BE ILLEGAL. THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT RICHARD
NIXON SAID. SOLEDAD: THE BOOK IS CALLED THE OATH AND THE OFFICE. COREY BRETTSCHNEIDER SO NICE TO HAVE YOU. THANK YOU A REAL PLEASURE. THE PLEASURE IS OURS. THANKS.

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  1. SERIOUSLY!!!? WHERE WERE THESE MORONS WHEN obama WAS RIPPING UP THE CONSTITUTION, LITERALLY BREAKING DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL LAW AND SUBVERTING CONGRESS TO MAKE LAW!!!?

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