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Trump's War on the Courts, the Press, and the States

By       Message Robert B. Reich       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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From Robert Reich Blog

Donald Trump Is After Total Control
Donald Trump Is After Total Control
(Image by wonkette.com)
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With congressional Republicans in the majority in Congress and unwilling to cross Donald Trump, the job of containing Trump's incipient tyranny falls to three centers of independent power: the nation's courts, its press, and a few state governments.

Which is why Trump is escalating attacks on all three.

The judiciary

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After federal Judge James Robart -- an appointee of George W. Bush -- stayed Trump's travel ban last Friday, Trump leveled a personal attack on the judge. "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

This was followed by another, late Sunday night: "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system."

For a President to personally attack a federal judge who disagrees with him is a dangerous overstepping of presidential power.

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As Alexander Hamilton famously wrote in the Federalist No. 78, the judiciary is the "least dangerous" branch of government because it has "no influence over either the sword or the purse." It depends for its power and legitimacy on congress and the president.

Mike Pence tried to defend Trump, saying "the president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government. And we have a long tradition of that in this country."

Wrong. While other presidents have publicly disagreed with court decisions, none before Trump has gone after individual judges with personal invective. None has tried to intimidate individual judges. None has questioned the legitimacy of the courts.

Trump is on the warpath against Robart because he defied Trump.

The press

Speaking to the U.S. Central Command on Monday, Trump veered off his prepared remarks to make a remarkable claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks.

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"You've seen what happened in Paris, and Nice," Trump told the assembled military officers. "It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that."

Trump thereby elevated his adviser Kellyanne Conway's "Bowling Green massacre" justification for his travel ban -- a massacre that she claimed the press had failed to cover, but which in fact never occurred -- to a higher and vaster level of conspiracy.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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