Donald Trump

Trump Has Secret Emergency Powers?

"Presidential emergency action documents” concocted under prior administrations purport to give him such authority, according to a New York Times op-ed.


President Donald Trump has an expansive view of how much unchecked power the U.S. chief executive can wield. For example, in a speech back in July 2019, he asserted, "I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president." The Article II to which Trump was referring is the section of the U.S. constitution that outlines the powers given to the president. Among other things, that article requires that the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." An ordinary language reading of that section does not prima facie suggest that it gives a president the right to whatever he or she wants to do.

More recently, during a March 12 White House press availability, Trump was asked if he was going to declare a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic. "We have very strong emergency powers under the Stafford Act," responded the president. He then added, "I have the right to do a lot of things that people don't even know about."

In a chilling op-ed in The New York Times, Brennan Center legal scholars Elizabeth Goitein and Andrew Boyle suggest that Trump's statement could be referring to the secret powers that previous presidents have granted themselves in "presidential emergency action documents." As Goitein and Boyle explain:

These documents consist of draft proclamations, executive orders and proposals for legislation that can be quickly deployed to assert broad presidential authority in a range of worst-case scenarios….These include suspension of habeas corpus by the president (not by Congress, as assigned in the Constitution), detention of United States citizens who are suspected of being "subversives," warrantless searches and seizures and the imposition of martial law.

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, it is not far-fetched to think that President Trump might seek to exercise the heretofore secret emergency powers delineated in the documents. "Even in the most dire of emergencies, the president of the United States should not be able to operate free from constitutional checks and balances," they argue. "Presidential emergency action documents have managed to escape democratic oversight for nearly 70 years. Congress should move quickly to remedy that omission and assert its authority to review these documents, before we all learn just how far this administration believes the president's powers reach."

It is way past time for Congress to rein in unconstitutional assertions of executive power by exposing and incinerating these secret presidential emergency action documents. Meanwhile, President Trump needs to adhere to his Article II oath: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

NEXT: Official COVID-19 Numbers Represent Just 6% of Total Infections, a New Analysis Suggests

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  1. I think you are confusing prior administration emergency powers with Trump’s personal super powers.

    1. It’s cool when Big O was in office tho.

      1. Trump has the highest rating in Big O notation.

        1. Too nerdy.

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    2. GEOTUS does have special powers.

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    4. This country is under double-secret probation…

  2. I am told that Trump wields the ULTIMATE weapon known as “booger beam”… Emergency Powers out the yin-yang!!! One finger on one nostril, blow hard like a blow-hard, and spew your narcissistic snot all over everyone, with the other nostril! Chinese-Trumpese-virus-laden snot, even!!!! And Nostril-dame-us, the Great Prophet, foretold all of this UTTER DOOM, a LONG time ago!

    Go ye and HIDE in yer shelters NOW, I am yelling you!!!!

    1. Fucking shit you fucking bitch. Have not missed you at all.

  3. “The Article II to which Trump was referring is the section of the U.S. constitution that outlines the powers given to the president. Among other things, that article requires that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” An ordinary language reading of that section does not prima facie suggest that it gives a president the right to whatever he or she wants to do.”

    Sure, but there are people – many of them have worked for the executive under one party or another (or both), who give Article II a broader interpretation.

    There have even been Supreme Court justices with such a broader view.

    So, in a crisis, whose views are going to get Presidential attention?

    1. Never fear, Libertarian Dear, JesseSPAX, the Libertarian Constitutional Scholar Extraordinaire is here!

      Demented Pro-Trump commentors here (like JesseSPAZ) think themselves to be Constitutional Scholars, and bless the idea that the Trumptatorship has “absolute rights”. ‘Cause Trump says so!!!
      Donald Trump’s Strange and Dangerous ‘Absolute Rights’ Idea
      This is a profound misunderstanding of the American constitutional system.


      Yet Trump can’t bring Himself to go on a much-needed head-chopping (douchebag-firing, layoffs) spree at the FDA, until such time as the USA has as much freedom as ALL OTHER NATIONS ON THE PLANET have, to blow on OTC cheap plastic flutes! Super-Trump, where are you now? North Koreans have more cheap-plastic-flutes freedoms than we do!


      JesseSPAZ comment: “He can fire political appointees for any fucking reason he wants.”
      Jesse’s over-archingly lusting after the super-powers of the Trumptatorship YET AGAIN!!!
      Trump can fire them for not assigning their entire paychecks to Trump… For not licking Trump’s balls as much as JesseSPAZ does… For turning down Trump’s requests for then to perform personal murder-for-hire… For having fucked Stormy Daniels out of turn, when it was Trump’s turn… For Air Force Captain-Sir-Dude-Sir-Pilot-Sir refusing orders to go and bomb Nancy Pelosi’s house…

      Just when I was rooting for JesseSPAZ to turn from his evil ways, he doubles down on Trumptatorship-worship AGAIN!

    3. In a crisis, we must ALL turn to JesseSPAZ to save us ALL!!!

      JesseSPAZ, as a grade-school bully, would steal the other kids’ lunch money. When confronted about it, he would say, “But there is no controlling legal authority above me”, and other oh-sooooo-deep legalese bullshit! And then skitter away, to do it again the next time!
      “He is not constitutionally bound on any actions he performed.”
      Reminds me of ol’ Prez Clinton and “there is no controlling legal authority above me”. Clinton-Gore logic!
      “Gore had no real defense, so he trotted out a phony one: There was, he infamously claimed, “no controlling legal authority.” What he meant was that there weren’t many court decisions interpreting the meaning of Section 607. It was laughable. The rule of thumb for judges, as for the rest of us, is that laws are construed to mean what they say, the ordinary, everyday understanding of the words. ”
      Plain written laws and Constitutional writings don’t mean what they say, unless JesseSPAZ agrees with them. Otherwise, he’ll trot out some Al-Gore-like bullshit, and then skitter away.

      Trumpbots also totally lose sight of the fact that ultimately, written words (laws, the USA Constitution, etc.) aren’t the be-all… Obeying our conscience, and positive outcomes for the human race, matter more! Example: In the waning days of the Nixon administration, people (to include the DoD) worried that a whacko Nixon (while depressed and drunk off his ass every night) might push the big read button, and start WW III, just ‘cause he (Nixon) was totally bummed out. So Schlesinger (Secretary of Defense) didn’t tell Nixon, but he whipped up a kludged-up “bypass” to Nixon’s Big Red Button… Which was totally in violation of the written words of the USA Constitution! But it was the right thing to do! “Right” as in “ethically and morally correct, and benevolent, and sensible”, not FAR Right, as in Trumpbotic minds and Trumptatorship worshippers today!

      1. Alright, I still don’t think you’re Hihn, but you may as well be. Stop obsessing over strangers on the internet and get a hobby.

        1. He’s either an idiot with a long list of Copypasta, or he’s an actual bot. Whichever, I really wish he would go away.

          1. Don’t read his content – treat it like the bots who made xxx on google.

            1. All the trumpbots seem to know how to insult and cuss and swear like drunken sailors… But they don’t even know the first thing about refuting arguments with facts or logic! Grow some neurons, dudes!

        2. Not enough sneers and boldface to be Hihn.

    4. This looks like really contemptible #FakeNews from Ron.

      The classic “sentence with no context”.

      1. Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

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  4. meesa propose that the senate give immediately emergency powers to the supreme chancellor.

  5. After back to back loons on the order of Obama and Trump, and no the problem is not in how different are they but how alike are they; every American should be screaming for the tightest possible restraints on Presidents.

    Trump is Obama’s third term.

    1. It’s more like Bush Sr’s 8th term.

      1. While I’ll concede troubling similarities among all those from Bush Sr. on and more, many executive overreaches extend from Lincoln on; Obama and Trump are unique among POTUSes in, at least, two key shared ways:

        Obama’s and Trump’s fame rather than works path to the WH – this decreased their competence and understanding and laid a footing for their cults of personality as a base instead of a base built on a normal constituency from their works.

        Obama and Trump, also, uniquely share their explicit division of Americans into a subset(s) they intend to serve and that / those that they are going to punish. Obama was the first ever to explicitly state this and Trump unconditionally surrendered the other major party to this strain of governance, which they had spent the previous decade denouncing and opposing.

        POTUSes have long had too much power and prestige, but Obama and Trump are uniquely offensive and dangerous cases.

    2. “Trump is Obama’s third term.”

      Yeah, he woulda’ appointed RBG, except she was already there.
      Your TDS is pathetic.

      1. Trump hasn’t appointed any judges or justices, the Federalist Society has, basically, made all the appointments. Trump was floating his equally nutty sister and Oprah as appointees; until, it selection was yanked from his hands.

        1. “Trump hasn’t appointed any judges or justices, the Federalist Society has”

          Bullshit. Don’t act like a progressive and change the meanings of words unless you’re a progressive. Trump relying heavily on their recommendations doesn’t mean he’s still not the one making the decision and, you know, making the appointments.

        2. “Trump hasn’t appointed any judges or justices, the Federalist Society has, basically, made all the appointments..”

          and a scumbag conspiracy imbecile besides.
          Fuck off, and post at some ‘Third Man on the Grassy Knoll’ site, you pathetic piece of shit.

  6. Well he should clearly cancel the November election.

    1. I think Biden’s going to do that for him.

  7. IIRC not long after he was elected Trump said something to the effect of “. . . if I decide to run for re-election. . . ” That could be interpreted as a preface to something like: “. . . as opposed to simply declaring myself Emperor-for-Life.”

    1. Or a preface to something like “… or revive my TV show” or “… or build a new hotel call The Presidential Trump Tower”.

      Or anything, amirite?

      1. I’m fairly sure the Illuminati were involved.

        They have their fingers in every pie.


  8. Of course none of this has happened, but the meme generation of snowflakes whirled around by their helicopter parents has managed to generate a deluge of bullshit that’s making this up.

    1. Those damn kids and their concerns about concentrated power in the hands of the executive! I blame rap music, myself.

      1. Nope. I have it on good authority, from a close personal friend, that it all started with the beatniks.

        1. I don’t care what records they listen to as long as they stay off my lawn.

      2. And I coulda got away with it, too, if it wasn’t for these pesky kids and their dog.

  9. There’s a little know codicil in the United States Constitution which gives the President unlimited power to preserve order in time of national emergency…

    We’ve been on double secret probation since March!

  10. Oh, so NOW Liberals are concerned with powers that Presidents have granted themselves over the years, are they? Where the f*kk were they when G. W. and Obama played fast and loose with the Constitution? Hell, go back all the way to FDR and ask that question.

    So, why are they suddenly so concerned when they didn’t give a damn less than 5 years ago? Hmmm?

    1. Or Woodrow Wilson.

      1. Beat me to it. The fears that Orange Man is going to go the full Progressive and start locking up opponents seems a tad bit far fetched.

    2. Took the proggies three and half years to figure out all that power they wished on Obama landed in Trump’s lap, Three and a half years to understand that centralizing all that power in the hands of a single mortal is not wise.

      Of course, they still haven’t figure out the solution to that problem. Maybe give the next Democrat president more power to combat it?

    3. I’ve asked that a million times

  11. Now that you have pointed this out, I’m sure congress will get right on this ;).

  12. Could we PLEASE have a simple multiple choice test about the Constitution that each candidate, and voter, must pass before they have rights to participate in an election?

    1. Or just prohibit government from initiating force.

      1. I don’t know what you intend with that regular claim, but absent force there is no government.
        You may be an anarchist, with that as a goal, but if you see any role’ at all for government, it must needs retain the monopoly on force.
        So, are you not real bright, or an anarchist who chooses not to admit so?

        1. I think IT is saying that government force should be reactionary as opposed to initiated. As in government uses force in reaction to an attack on the homeland, or in reaction to crime. As opposed to initiating military violence all over the world and proactive policing that initiates force on people who have not harmed anyone.

        2. I don’t see him denying being an anarchist.

    2. We could, but it would violate the Constitution. We tried it once, and it got shot down hard. Idiots do indeed have the right to vote. We just never imagined one of them would be elected to the highest office.

      What we can do instead is have all those airhead debate moderators actually ask Constitutional questions of the idiots up on stage.

      1. Initially, most idiots did not have the right to vote, and the segments of representative government determined by direct democracy were limited.

        I would be happy to see documentation of how our government, both the personalities and the performance, has improved as we expanded suffrage and office holder selection by voters.

  13. The pandemic isn’t worsening. Nice fearmongering.

    1. It’s crazy how just assuming everybody with a fever has covid can juice the stats.

    2. Number of new cases continues to rise. It’s slowing, meaning we’re nearing the peak, but as of the time of this story, it’s still rising.

      If you think sticking your head in the sand will make you safer, got for it. But stay six feet away from anyone else with their head in the sand.

    3. word. New York is not everywhere.

  14. “authority”, not “right”. Individual people, in their private lives, have rights. Aside from that, it’s all (delegated) authority.

    Words have specific meanings. It would be nice if the media would at least hold politicians to speaking clearly. And, vice versa, it would be nice it politicians would be loud about media using intentionally fuzzy language in their reports.

    1. And, whether it is the right, or the authority, it is not unlimited. That goes from Trump as much as it went for Barry OhBumma.

    2. “Words have specific meanings.”

      You haven’t been paying attention, have you?
      Hate Speech
      Free Speech
      Right wing

      None of these have meaning anymore. They are used in any way the speaker prefers, especially if used as the opposite of what they really (used to) mean.

      1. literally

    3. Words have specific meanings in certain specific contexts. There is not and never has been a universal “correct” meaning to a word. That’s not how natural languages work. That said, there is great utility in defining strict definitions for certain words in certain contexts. And I wish people would do that more so people might actually have some idea what they are talking about.

      1. Fair enough for general conversation, but when communicating within a specific field, there are “correct” meanings. As an example, in the sciences, accuracy and precision are two very different things (accuracy being how close something is to reality or truth, precision being how close a bunch of numbers are to each other).

        For someone in government, or politics, the two words that I spoke of (rights vs. authority) are rather different concepts that have been muddied (intentionally ?) by those with an axe to grind. POTUS, whoever that happens to be at the moment, really should have a handle on that difference. Similarly, so should every elected official. But then, I also expect that every one of them should have read and understood the Constitution of the United States (as written), whether they agree with it or not. Of course, I’m a dreamer…..

  15. OT, but before the day is over: Happy Easter! He is risen!!!

      1. He was also seen in a group of more than 10.

        1. He also cured people without getting FDA permission first.

    1. Shame “he” never existed.

      1. You don’t have to believe in Christianity, Buddhism or Islam to accept that Jesus, Buddha and Mohammad existed. Do you reject the existence of the Dalai Lama or Haile Selassie?

      2. Depends on whether by “he” you mean the literal son of God, with all that entails, or some guy who inspired a new religious sect a few thousand years ago, I would think.

  16. There oughta be a law that every Governor and piss pot mayor learn ASL as it seems everyone of em has hired one probably at $ix figures and maybe a full staff.

    1. I hear the guy from Nelson Mandela’s funeral is available.

    2. Can someone explain to me in this day of every broadcast having subtitles/closed captioning why there remains a need for every pol to even have someone up there doing the play-by-play in ASL?

      Call it “hate speech” (see above), but it’s distracting, and pandering too, I suspect.

      1. Fear of ADA lawsuit?

      2. I love watching the signers.
        Very performative and entertaining

        1. totally this.

      3. Doesn’t bother me. The places that do it probably have laws requiring it. Which is probably pretty pointless, but so are most politicians’ speeches and press conferences. I’m sure some deaf people prefer to get it in their own language rather than reading subtitles. And live closed captioning isn’t always great.

  17. In a chilling op-ed in The New York Times…

    Anything following those words can safely be presumed to be a lie.

    1. “In a chilling op-ed in The New York Times, calling for restrictions on speech, the piece cited, as an example for why this is needed, the comment section of the Reason magazine, pointing out the degenerate nature of all the commenters, except the one shining light that goes by the username ‘Sevo’.”

  18. I, did not Presidents can grant themselves “powers.” However they can not grant themselves funding.

  19. “will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
    They do a piss poor job because they set a really low bar with “the best of their ability.”

  20. Maybe Trump is about to use his super secret powers to reopen the country for business. Over the strong objections of the media and twitterati.

  21. This is such bullshit. My GF is stressing over rent, although I’ve got more than enough side jobs, and UE, and unused PTO. But, I don’t recall the part of the social contract that says a bunch of pussies can make the rest of stay home, loose businesses, etc., to the tune of 10million unemployed (so far), and an additional 2 trillion dollars to an already maxed out national debt. Whatever happened to the home of the free and the land of the brave? 50 years ago, they’d be marching on state capitols.

    1. We no longer have the “Give me liberty, or give me death” guys.

  22. Every President has the right to do whatever he wants, and many have already have tried. They have one problem, the Congress or Supreme Court can shut that right down.

  23. No, the president has no secret powers at all, and any document used as justification for such is an outright lie. Every single power delegated to the president is listed in article 2, section 2. Any attempt to exercise authority outside this boundary is illegal, and is a usurpation of OUR authority.

  24. “In Response To This Direct Threat To The Republic, Mesa Propose That The Senate Give Immediately Emergency Powers To The Supreme Chancellor.” – Jar Jar Binks

  25. Kind of amusing seeing Reason cite the “take care” clause, when their biggest complaint about Trump is that he’s taking care to see immigration laws enforced.

    It’s not the “take care that only laws I like be enforced” clause, and some people need to remember that.

  26. I love how these vast extra-constitutional powers weren’t a problem for the NYT until Trump got his hands on them.

  27. Sigh, I see Bailey is back to his Orange Man Bad schtick.

    1. Orange Man bad?!? He BAD, all right! He SOOO BAD, He be GOOD! He be GREAT! He Make America Great Again!

      We KNOW He can Make America Great Again, because, as a bad-ass businessman, He Made Himself and His Family Great Again! He Pussy Grabber in Chief!

      See The Atlantic article by using the below search-string in quotes:
      “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet” or this one…

      He pussy-grab His creditors in 7 bankruptcies, His illegal sub-human workers ripped off of pay on His building projects, and His “students” in His fake Get-Rich-like-Me realty schools, and so on. So, He has a GREAT record of ripping others off! So SURELY He can rip off other nations, other ethnic groups, etc., in trade wars and border wars, for the benefit of ALL of us!!!

      All Hail to THE Pussy Grabber in Chief!!!

      Most of all, HAIL the Chief, for having revoked karma! What comes around, will no longer go around!!! The Donald has figured out that all of the un-Americans are SOOO stupid, that we can pussy-grab them all day, every day, and they will NEVER think of pussy-grabbing us right back!

      Orange Man Bad-Ass Pussy-Grabber all right!

  28. Donald M. Trump is the finest gentlemen ever to grace 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Of course he has double secret probation emergency powers! He is the only president ever to deserve such righteous power and authority over mortals. God Bless Donald M. Trump! Because he damned well needs it!

  29. Yet oddly the Orange Hitler has not taken advantage of those powers, strange for a Hitler to not do that.

  30. In a chilling op-ed in The New York Times

    So is the op-ed chilling because the NYT previously didn’t care and suddenly woke up and noticed, or is it chilling because Trump is in office, and in 2024 we can all go back to sleep again?

  31. L’Homme Orange est mauvais!

  32. also the chilling thing is cute. the words were scary?

    1. No, he meant that it literally lowered his temperature.

  33. “it is not far-fetched to think that President Trump might …”

    That’s the journalistic thinking that has launched thousands upon thousands of TDS articles since even before he was president.

    1. It is not far-fetched to think that President Trump might be the Perfect Stable Genius and Finest POTUS EVAH! … According to those afflicted with pro-Trump TDS, that is, which clearly includes Der TrumpfenFuhrer Himself!

    2. I tend to think that Trump is actually less likely to take dictatorial powers in a situation like this than his recent predecessors would have been. But it’s still not all that far fetched, and the fact that such things are all lined up and ready to go is something peopel ought to be concerned about.

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