What does Trump’s “State of Emergency” really mean for America?
“A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to perform actions that it would normally not be permitted. A government can declare such state during a disaster, civil unrest, or armed conflict. Such declaration alerts citizens to change their normal behavior and orders government agencies to implement emergency plans.” ~ Wikipedia
In the wake of the Pentagon Chief of Staff resigning, 24 hours after Trump’s claim of invoking “National Emergency”, we have to think of what this really means for America and our future. There is a lot more at stake here than the 2020 election folks. Trump has consistently, for the past 2 1/2 years, shown his long-time contempt for the limitations placed on presidential power and wants more limitations placed on democratic rule.
Trump’s entire theme for his 2016 campaign was “Lock her up”, claiming if he were president, he would jail Hillary Clinton, which then promoted the infamous rally chants and cries we still hear to this day. His praising of murderous dictators on the world stage, in just about every press conference he gives, and his ardent disdain for universal suffrage are not just mere bravado. Nor should they be easily dismissed as “crazy talk”.
I really and truly want to believe that America is going to be safe from Trump and his compulsions by our democratic laws and governing bodies. I take comfort in the Constitution and our House Democrats, that they will somehow, together, keep this madman in his straight jacket. But I’m afraid I’ve become a bit pessimistic these past two years watching him literally get away with murder (2 small children are dead).
But will Congress be able to keep him in check during a “National Emergency” which is a whole new level of insanity? That will remain to be seen.
“We could call a national emergency because of the security of our country, absolutely,” Trump said. “We can do it. I haven’t done it, I may do it. I may do it. But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”
Thurgood Marshall wrote in 1989, “History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.”
If the last two years have taught us nothing at all, it’s that we cannot be complacent or take things for granted ever again.
Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice, simply and alarmingly spells out exactly what Trump could do with the Presidential powers he has been entrusted with, should he feel threatened by the prospect of an indictment or impeachment, for example, preceding the election in 2020. That is if he even makes it that far. The powers he could deploy are reserved for him in the exclusive context of declaring a “National Emergency.” And they are significant.
Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.
So, while most of us hold out on the belief that our government will keep the interest of the country at the forefront of this debacle, Trump has not given us one indication that he has ANYONE’S interests at heart, but his own. Including his children and wife. Trump’s narcissism and outright unstable behavior, as indictments rain down around him, give us only a glimpse of how he will abuse these powers to save his own ass.
As Goitein explains, we have entered into new realities with Trump. Mainly his own. The obstruction of justice and level of savagery is a first, for any President in history. Especially when it comes to people opposing his policies or him directly. Despite the obstacles he’s faced in court, Trump has been able to get away with a whole lot more than anyone ever thought was possible. Especially little old me. I wake UP shaking my head and go to bed with a heavy heart.
Kidnapping, abuse, the death of immigrant children at our borders, putting 800,000 federal workers in danger of losing their homes or going hungry, and then calling it a strike; his Muslim ban and his interference in NFL policy – forcing players to choose between their morals and their paycheck. Blaming everything on Obama, taking away healthcare for millions of Americans, sucking up to Vladimir…I can go on and on, but these things alone, give you some idea of what a “national emergency” or “state of emergency” would do to these sick impulses he already has. We’re in trouble. Anyone who dares make him angry, or publicly denounce him especially.
Goitein explains how we have seen these times before with previous Presidents, and there are STILL to this day since 1976, 32 states of emergency in effect.
- Franklin Roosevelt – FDR orders Japanese-Americans to be interned in camps, Feb. 19, 1942
- George W. Bush Jr – The Bush Administration’s Terrorist Surveillance Program and the Fourth Amendment’s Warrant Requirement after the attacks of 911, which allowed the Government to spy on ordinary citizens without a warrant.
- Abraham Lincoln – The Habeas Corpus Suspension Act (during the civil war), authorized the president of the United States to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which normally enforces the right of a prisoner’s case to be examined by a judge to determine if their detainment is lawful.
When these powers were eventually challenged, the Supreme Court typically avoided the conversation or bowed down to the presidents. Today, we have a much more conservative court, and there is no reason to believe that they will all of a sudden keep him in check and restrain those powers. Despite RBG. It’s one of the reasons Trump fought so hard to seat Brett Kavanaugh.
As a result, the president has access to emergency powers contained in 123 statutory provisions, as recently calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where I work. These laws address a broad range of matters, from military composition to agricultural exports to public contracts. For the most part, the president is free to use any of them; the National Emergencies Act doesn’t require that the powers invoked relate to the nature of the emergency. Even if the crisis at hand is, say, a nationwide crop blight, the president may activate the law that allows the secretary of transportation to requisition any privately owned vessel at sea. Many other laws permit the executive branch to take extraordinary action under specified conditions, such as war and domestic upheaval, regardless of whether a national emergency has been declared.
It is important to note here that while these statutory powers have never been enforced or used, it’s Trump! We have a man who believes he is above the law sitting in the White House. Let’s not forget Rex Tillerson said in December that he stopped Trump from doing illegal things and that he himself was ordered to do illegal things for Trump on numerous occasions, to which he supposedly pushed back, telling Trump what he wanted to do was illegal. Oy Vey!
So now things get interesting. Goitein takes an ominous look at how these abuse of powers can go off the rails by reminding us of how George W. Bush invoked “emergency powers” after 9/11 to set the wheels in motion for a false narrative that led to the war in Iraq, which had NOTHING to do with the attacks, by the way. But, that is a whole different article…So I’ll revisit this another time.
There is a sinister provision that lies in the Communications Act of 1934, that essentially allows for a President to “shut down or take control of any facility or station for ‘wire communication’. ” So what Goitein is interpreting this to mean, along with several government officials who have weighed in, is that Trump can shut down the internet and even block access to it. She strongly believes it is not out of Trump’s purview.
Although interpreting a 1942 law to cover the internet might seem far-fetched, some government officials recently endorsed this reading during debates about cybersecurity legislation. Under this interpretation, Section 706 could effectively function as a “kill switch” in the U.S.—one that would be available to the president the moment he proclaimed a mere threat of war. It could also give the president power to assume control over U.S. internet traffic.
So this would allow Trump to block and even ban access to social media sites by certain people or groups of people, and yes, even individuals like you and I. Imagine what he would do to Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels or even Rep Tlaib, after her #ImpeachTheMF comment. Scary right? That’s not the worse of it. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEP), makes it easy for Trump to restrict his political opponents or detractors access to travel in much the same way. It’s essentially a Presidential directed, “no-fly” list. GEEZUS people!
The government also would have the ability to impede domestic access to particular websites, including social-media platforms. It could monitor emails or prevent them from reaching their destination. It could exert control over computer systems (such as states’ voter databases) and physical devices (such as Amazon’s Echo speakers) that are connected to the internet.
Goitein provides us a likely scenario in which as we draw closer to 2020 and Trump, facing an even more recessive economy, more indictments and yes, even the possibility of impeachment, will make up some phony threat from Iran to distract the ever so easily distracted MSM.
Fox News hosts will sound off about it, and ram it down his base’s throats in a ” mid-term caravan” fashion and will quietly go away just the same. He’s going to hype this up to the point where he can THEN justify the “state of emergency” on our electoral process by Iran.
Activists and protestors will take to the streets and Twitter and when his base starts to commit even more acts of violence for their leader, he can call in the National Guard, and we are then all under gun-point…literally and figuratively, until the 2020 elections, as a way to protect us…from a false allegation and distraction. Let that sink in. Read it again if you have to and pin this.
While Gotein’s theory might sound a little conspiracy-ish, let’s not forget who we are dealing with here. There is absolutely NOTHING that suggests Trump would do anything different than what he’s already shown us. On top of that, if there’s even a small inclination that John Bolton, General Mattis or Steven Miller advised him of these powers, in order to desperately cling on to a Presidency he doesn’t rightfully own, he’s going to use every last one of them. As we continue towards state propaganda run Fox News, Infowars and Tucker Carlson’s hot mess of a show, Goitein’s hypothesis is not that far-fetched.
The limits of our Constitution have been stretched to its boundaries with Trump, his administration and the Republican party. As Goitein suggests to us, let us not focus on the endless possibility of scenarios and outcomes but instead, the new House Democrats should review the Emergency powers under the current law, and rewrite them quickly!!!
There is nothing in the constitution or the current law that would restrict them from doing so in order to prevent further destruction of our democracy by an illegitimate President, who is willing to do anything to America and its citizens in order to retain his power and freedom. The only thing that COULD stop them is Trump’s enablers, Republicans, who stand to also lose big should Trump be taken down prior to being re-elected.
Stand tall and whatever happens, have faith in our newly elected House Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. We will fight this tooth and nail. Is it going to be easy? Hell no! Are we up for some more sleepless nights? Will we lose even more family and friends as bonds are tested? The answer is yes, to all of it, but the result…is far worse than I want to imagine, so I’m ready for whatever comes our way. I have to be and so do you! I’m so ready to see the expression on the “Fu@k your feelings” crowd’s faces in the next few weeks and months.
Please be sure to check out the Tweet below, follow all of our new Congressmen and Congresswomen in the House (#FreshmenFollow), and let your voices be heard. Tell them we won’t stand for this! Do it daily! Get involved in policies and laws that affect your state. If you would like to be more engaged or get active, we applaud you and want to help provide you with the resources, support, and knowledge you need to carry you on your journey. Reach out to @DemWritePress and learn more about getting involved.
Renee’ s Column, “Dem Words: Wednesday Words of Wisdom”, that breaks down everyday issues from the perspective of the black community.
Her hope is that through her words, she can get more people in her community and across America to become consistently involved in our democracy and become educated and re-informed about how politics does, in fact, affect our every day lives.
Everyone of every race, religion, gender, and creed are encouraged to read this blog each Wednesday and increase your self-awareness as an African American, but also for those of you are avid supporters and believers of all equality to support our movement, and become educated and informed of our struggles as well.
This is for everyone. So we never have to worry about history repeating itself…again! Let’s say enough is enough and let’s stay engaged, and keep those around us engaged as well!
It’s up to us. Those of us on Twitter, ARE the leaders, the ones who are not on social media are the ones we need to reach. This alternative perspective allows you to speak to multiple groups of people and help save our democracy. The midterms are just one step, we have 2020 to get through, and beyond! If you want to have your voice heard, be sure to reach out to DemWritePress, and click on Write For Us!
#StateofEmergency #NationalEmergency #TrumpIsNotAboveTheLaw #DemWords