Supporters of post-Trump executive restrictions prepare for new push

WASHINGTON – As Donald J. Trump’s anti-norm presidency suffered two dismissals, his departure prepare the terrain to legislators to imp...


WASHINGTON – As Donald J. Trump’s anti-norm presidency suffered two dismissals, his departure prepare the terrain to legislators to impose new limits on executive power such as the period after Watergate and the Vietnam War.

But nearly nine months after Mr. Trump left the White House, the legal rules that govern the presidency have yet to be tightened. Aspiring reformers, sensing the window for change may close soon, are preparing a major push – one that the White House Biden is looking at with suspicion.

House Democrats plan this month to reintroduce a broad set of limits on executive power. The bill – a refinement legislation introduced last year during the presidential campaign for political messaging purposes – will bring together many proposals that seep into congressional committees.

The bill is expected to cover almost a dozen questions. Among them: It would be more difficult for presidents to grant pardons in contexts similar to corruption and to spend – or secretly freeze – funds unlike congressional appropriations. This would speed up legal proceedings regarding congressional subpoenas. And that would strengthen the Constitution’s ban on presidents receiving “emoluments” or payments from foreigners.

Known as the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the bill will be introduced by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who also sponsored its 2020 version. But it represents the work of lawmakers and staff from several committees that have been talking to the White House for months; President Nancy Pelosi asked them to combine their efforts, assistants said.

Acknowledging that he “was working with my colleagues in the House to present and advance this legislation over the next few weeks”, Mr Schiff, in a statement, presented the bill as a response to “the numerous abuses of executive power. “from Mr. Trump. If Congress does not put in place new safeguards, he warned, Mr. Trump’s conduct would serve as a “road map for unscrupulous future presidents to abuse their power and frustrate surveillance efforts.” the most fundamental ”.

The White House supports many ideas, according to people familiar with its talks with House Democrats. This includes preventing the expiration of the limitation period while the presidents are in office and temporarily sheltered from prosecution; strengthen whistleblower protections; prohibit foreign electoral assistance; and tightening the limits on who Speakers can appoint to temporarily fill vacancies that normally require Senate confirmation.

“The routine abuse of power by the previous administration and the violation of long-standing norms posed a profound threat to our democracy,” said Chris Meagher, White House spokesman. “We strongly support efforts to restore guardrails and revive these long-standing standards. We’re working with Congress to make it happen, and we’re also building that commitment into everything this administration does. “

But the White House has also expressed skepticism and opposed some of the proposals as going too far and infringing on presidents’ constitutional prerogatives, people familiar with the talks said.

Regarding leniency, for example, the White House argues that it is clearer that a pardon can count as a “thing of value” in an illegal bribery program and that presidents cannot forgive themselves. same. But the White House is uncomfortable with a related proposal to require disclosure to Congress of internal White House communications and Justice Department records regarding leniency recipients.

Administration officials are also said to be concerned about proposals to provide Congress with newspapers about White House interactions with the Justice Department and to ban presidents from dismiss inspectors general without just cause.

And amid the possibility that Republicans will regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm election, the White House is said to be skeptical of a proposal to give lawmakers a clearer right to sue the executive to enforce. his assignments. It would also speed up the courts’ resolution of such lawsuits and make lower-ranking officials personally responsible for paying court-ordered fines for refusing to comply with a subpoena – even if ordered by the president.

These changes could render the standard for resolving interprofessional disputes over information through compromise and accommodation obsolete, with litigation being a rare last resort. (Mr. Trump flouted this standard, swearing to block “all” subpoenas and miss the time in class.)

It’s still unclear whether the final bill will include many of the ideas the White House has raised concerns about. In June, Mr. Schiff told MSNBC that House Democrats were receiving “some hindsight from the administration” and said he hoped President Biden and his team would see that the priority should be to ensure that the checks and balances system works.

“If that means making sure Congress can exercise control, that is what has to happen,” Schiff added. “So I hope we get some movement from them, but I’m determined to move forward anyway.”

House Democrats aren’t the only White House allies urging Team Biden to agree to new restrictions. Among the outside defenders who join them is Bob bauer, Mr. Biden’s personal lawyer.

Last year, Mr. Bauer, who was a White House adviser in the Obama administration, joined Jack L. Goldsmith, a senior official in Bush’s Justice Department, to write a book proposing dozens of restrictions on executive power titled “After Trump: Rebuilding the Presidency.” This week the couple formed an organization called the Presidential reform project.

With funding from philanthropic foundations, they hire a bipartisan team to lobby Congress. On Wednesday, they sent two letters to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland urging him to take certain action. protect the Department of Justice from politicization and to cancel three Bush-era memos who “takes an extreme and indefensible view of presidential war powers”.

“We have time, but not much, to make progress on reform before the midterm policy, and then the 2024 election cycle makes it more difficult,” Bauer said. “It is extremely important to push ahead with certain reforms in the coming months to give momentum to this program. “

By presenting the next House bill as a reprimand from Mr. Trump, Mr. Schiff may risk dissuading Republicans – especially amid rumors that Mr Trump could run for re-election in 2024. The Senate obstruction rule means some Republican support would be needed there.

But collaborators and staff advocates say the strategy will be different in the Senate. There, ideas are likely to be shattered and attached to other bills which, with a different cast, are seen as more likely to garner support from Republicans.

Most ideas predate Trump’s presidency, said Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Government Oversight Project, which sought to improve protections for inspectors general and whistleblowers.

“A lot of these cracks in our system may have been made more obvious by Trump but have been there for a long time,” she said. “I know why Democrats want to present this as a Trump accountability bill, but we’ve been calling for almost all of these reforms for decades. “

For example, the proposal to require the disclosure to Congress of the White House’s contacts with the Justice Department is now important because Mr. Trump and his aides pressured prosecutors to investigate. his political opponents and former assistants considered disloyal, and to arouse unfounded suspicions about the legitimacy of his 2020 electoral defeat. But it echoes a bill that Senators Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and John Cornyn of Texas, both Republicans, voted in 2007.

And an idea to restrict a president’s power to declare a national emergency and unlock special vigilance powers – as Mr Trump did to spend more public money on a border wall than Congress was prepared to approve – echoes legislation introduced in 2019 by Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, with 18 other Republican co-sponsors.

“We know 19 Republicans have already signed emergency powers reform,” said Elisabeth goitein, director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “He enjoys broad bipartisan support – we know that. If anything, it’ll be a matter of hanging on to Democrats now that Biden is president. “

As a presidential candidate, Mr Biden said in an inquiry into the executive branch that he would sign many types of post-Trump reviews – but did not approve new limits on emergency powers.

The push isn’t limited to Mr Schiff’s bill. For example, Mr. Lee teamed up with Senators Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, on national security powers law, which would combine new limits on emergency powers with restrictions on presidential war powers and arms sales.

And as part of an annual defense bill last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved a provision transfer control of the District of Columbia National Guard from the president to the mayor. Mr. Trump had deployed the Guard against protesters during racial justice protests last year.

To add to the pressure, the Protect Democracy group hired a lobbying team led by a former Republican Senate adviser to reach out to lawmakers in the hope of gaining bipartisan support, said Soren dayton, a policy advocate with the group that has worked for several elected Republicans.

“The time is right and the window is closing,” Mr. Dayton said. “A lot of these ideas have a history of bipartisan support. The progress so far is proof that Congress cares about the power of the legislative branch and the rule of law, but we’ll learn if it cares enough.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Supporters of post-Trump executive restrictions prepare for new push
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