President Donald Trump’s threat to adjourn Congress if he doesn’t get his way has been widely panned, especially by former deputy and Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on Wednesday night.
During his latest press conference/campaign rally, Trump openly threatened to adjourn Congress after complaining that his appointees aren’t being confirmed fast enough. He delivered this threat just a day after claiming to have “total” authority as president.
The problem is that Trump doesn’t have this kind of power. Not only can he not adjourn Congress since the Constitution says there has to be disagreement between the Senate and House on when to adjourn, but he also can’t make recess appointments to the bench either.
During an appearance on MSNBC, Katyal schooled Trump.
“The president is trying to assert the powers of Congress,” he began. “Congress sets the budget and the president can’t just go and nix out items he doesn’t agree with because he doesn’t like an organization or foreign government like Ukraine or Puerto Rico, you don’t get to nix out funding. That’s not the way our system works. His claims here are very King George. Like what he said a couple of days ago, he said ‘I can force the states to reopen.’ All of this together is blatantly a destruction of what our Constitution is about.”
Indeed, it should also be pointed out that moving to take Congress out of the equation is what authoritarians do in the last stages of consolidating their power and becoming a full-fledged dictator.
Katyal went on to point out the hurdles blocking Trump’s threat.
“That has three very deep constitutional problems,” he continued. “One is the Constitution doesn’t let him, Article II says he can only adjourn Congress if they disagree. There is no disagreement there. The House and Senate said they should adjourn on January 3rd. Second, even if he could get over that, it doesn’t allow him to recess judges, which is what he was seeking to do in the press conference today because the Supreme Court, a few years ago in a decision, said you can’t use the recess power essentially like an end-run around Senate confirmation, and that’s of course what he’s doing here.”
Another problem is that many Republicans also oppose his nominees for one reason or another. And they won’t like it if Trump tries to silence them.
Katyal then noted the hypocrisy of Trump’s whining since Republicans refused to give a hearing to Merrick Garland when former President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court back in 2016.
“Give me a break!” Katyal concluded. “He had 50 court of appeals judges confirmed in three years. Obama had 55 and in eight years. And the last two years of Obama, he only got two nominees confirmed. Two. Trump gets that on any given Tuesday and, you know, the most galling thing about this is that they have the nerve to say this when they didn’t even get Merrick Garland a hearing. The president said, ‘Oh, the Senate isn’t doing its duty to confirm judges. The senate that’s his own party? And that’s why he wants to do this? I mean, boy, we never heard any of that before when he had the most dramatic things at stake. Sorry, that was a long answer but hopefully gives you something to work with.”
Here’s the video via Daily Motion:
If anyone had a real gripe about Congress not appointing judicial nominees, it’s Obama. Yet, he did not whine about it and he certainly never threatened to abuse his power to get what he wanted. For all their accusations of tyranny against Obama, it’s pretty clear now that Republicans were wrong and that it’s Trump who is the real tyrant.
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