EDITORIAL: America’s ‘national emergency’ is Trump’s dictatorial perversion of the law


As President Donald Trump himself illustrated this week, the only national emergency is the one created by his changing role from incompetent U.S. president to that of American despot.

He has not only created a virtual lame-duck presidency for himself, but his outlandish actions now threaten the future of the Republican Party.

Stymied in his demands to build a border wall — first by his own Republican Congress and then Democrats, too, as they took control of the House in January — Trump made good Friday on weeks of threat by declaring a national emergency to embezzle money Congress won’t give him.

The declaration of an emergency at the Mexican border capped his obsession to make good on an inapt campaign promise to his political base: to build a southern border wall that Mexico will pay for. The president has now dropped the part of his promise about Mexico paying for the wall.

Rebuked by Congress, Trump wants to force taxpayers to fork over more than $6 billion to build a wall that experts say that, at best, is useless in stopping illegal drugs and immigrants from getting into the United States. Many experts say such a wall would actually present a host of dangers to Americans — beyond the fact that it would serve as a monument to Trump’s racism and cruelty.

Trump and his own administration have made clear that the vast majority of illegal drugs and immigrants get to the United States through official ports. Most illegal immigrants begin as legal visitors who just don’t leave. Drugs are smuggled into the country at land and sea ports among or posing as legal cargo.

Even Trump himself, during a rambling and often incoherent Rose Garden homily on Friday, explained there is no national emergency at the border even by his own warped standards.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time,” Trump said, explaining that he is now rolling out dictatorial policy that the Constitution expressly forbids. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

Trotting out his now all-too-familiar parade of exaggerations, fiction and lies about the level and type of crime and criminals coming across the Mexican border, Trump sought to make it seem that a long well-documented trend toward decreased illegal border activity is actually pandemonium that only his presidential edict can solve.

He ignores criticism that even if you stipulate there are millions of rapists, thieves, gangsters, drugs and other assorted evil-doers pouring hourly into the country over the border of the Mexican desert, building a wall would be the slowest and most inefficient way to stop it.

Congress must use everything at its disposal to hold this tyrant president at bay until he either resigns, is impeached, is expelled, or eventually tossed out by voters.

What Trump has now wrought upon his own party is perhaps the worst of the curse of his tenure. It is unthinkable that the Republican Party would become complicit in a scheme to usurp the powers of Congress so Trump could steal taxpayer money for a petulant project that serves only to preserve his image for his shrinking political base.

It won’t be nearly enough for Colorado Republican officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner and congressmen Scott Tipton and Ken Buck to just give lip service to their displeasure on Trump’s end-run around the Constitution. Servile Colorado Springs Congressman Doug Lamborn is a lost cause to rational Americans.

They, and all Republicans hoping to politically survive what they have created, must take demonstrable legislative action to first rebuke Trump’s dictatorial scheme, then they must vote to reverse it, and then likely to sustain it.

Those who refuse to take a responsible role in abrogating the president’s autocratic decree can expect the same wrath voters are saving for Trump if his presidency should implausibly survive until the 2020 election.