Donald Trump can no more pull off declaring a national emergency and unilaterally building a border wall than he can sprout wings and fly to Mars, though at this point most Americans wish he would do precisely that. You don’t have to take our word for it; just ask the new head of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, a former prosecutor who knows a thing or two about how the law works.
Here’s how Adam Schiff explained Donald Trump’s empty national emergency threat on Twitter today: “If Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, President Trump certainly doesn’t have the power to declare a nonexistent emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border. That’s a complete nonstarter.”
It’s not difficult to figure out why Trump’s threat isn’t going anywhere. Congress can override a president’s national emergency declaration, and the president can’t fund anything without congressional authorization anyway. Trump has a history of making implied threats that even he knows he can’t pull off. First it was firing Robert Mueller. Then it was pardons. Now it’s declaring a national emergency. These aren’t realistic things.
Donald Trump is largely a bluffer, and you defeat him by loudly calling his bluff. When Trump occasionally does make drastic moves (firing Comey, abducting immigrant kids, etc), he usually does it without warning or in secret. He tries to distract us with the big imaginary threats, so we won’t be paying enough attention to the things he really is quietly doing. Let’s stop falling for it; Adam Schiff just explained why.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report