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Trump's not claiming executive power. He's going for divine right.

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- In 1787, the framers gave us a president, not a king.

On Tuesday, lawyers for President Trump gave a dissenting opinion.

In the first of many courtroom showdowns between Trump's executive branch and the legislative branch, Trump's lawyer William Consovoy argued to U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta that Congress has no authority to pry into Trump's finances. That was expected. Unexpected was Consovoy's broader argument: that Congress has essentially no authority to investigate any president for anything. Sorry, Sam Ervin: Even the Watergate investigation would have been illegal under the theory offered by Trump's team.

Consovoy, a beefy former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, offered two related points:

(A) Congress can't issue a subpoena or otherwise probe a president unless it is doing so for a "legitimate legislative purpose."

(B) Any "legitimate legislative purpose" Congress could conceivably devise would be unconstitutional.

 

As a result, Consovoy argued, Congress can't investigate to see if a law is being broken, can't inform the public of wrongdoing by the executive and can't look for presidential conflicts of interest or corruption, because that would be "law enforcement."

Forget about the Unitary Executive Theory. This one is closer to the Divine Right of Kings.

Mehta, an Obama appointee, probed for the limits of this breathtaking theory but found none:

Trump's finances are not subject to investigation?

...continued

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