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‘Imperial’ US executive will provoke Congress

Friday, June 28, 2019

Subject

US presidential powers.

Significance

On June 19, Hope Hicks, a former Trump 2016 campaign aide and former White House communications director, answered questions about her time on the campaign in a closed-door Congress session, but did not answer questions about her West Wing service. This followed arguments from the White House that her communications with President Donald Trump and activities in the West Wing were covered by ‘constitutional immunity’ and that taking House of Representatives questions could undermine the ‘prerogatives’ of the presidency. The case touches on the powers of the presidency and the 'unitary executive' theory, which affects how the president governs.

Impacts

  • The administration will resist future congressional attempts to get former and current White House officials to testify.
  • Congress will try to push back against an overmighty executive but would need to overturn presidential vetoes.
  • Areas where Congress will seek greater powers include trade and foreign and military policy.
  • If Congress feels its oversight powers are diminished by an ‘imperial presidency’, pressure to impeach Trump will grow.
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