Utah Republican Mike Lee hints the President might be acting a little bit too much like a king these days…
Lee puts Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 69 front and center in a fiery criticism of the White House’s imperious attitude toward explaining its attack on Iran. Part 69 of the Federalist Papers discusses the limitations of the President as Commander-and-Chief of the U.S. armed forces (at the time, the Army and Navy). And states:
“The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it.”
Hamilton continues that while the President has “command and direction” of the military, his power does not extend to:
“That of DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.”
(Yeah, Hamilton did use ALL CAPS there, and often.)
(Federalist 69 is also the part of the Federalist Papers that outlines the impeachment process, but that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.)
In case you don’t have the time (although it’s only a few minutes), here’s a compilation we made of parts of what he had to say:
“President Trump has shown a lot of restraint. He’s been reluctant to get us involved in wars all over the world….I respect that enormously.”
“The briefing lasted only 75 minutes, whereupon our briefers left. This, however, is not the biggest problem I have with the briefing. Which I would add, is probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the 9 years I’ve served in the United States Senate.”
“What I found so distressing about that briefing was that one of the messages we received from the briefers was: ‘Do not debate. Do not discuss the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran.’ And that: ‘If you do, you’ll be emboldening Iran.’ The implication being that we would somehow be making America less safe by having a debate or a discussion….I find it insulting and I find it demeaning to the Constitution of the United States to which we’ve all sworn an oath.”
“Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Number 69, made clear that this was a sharp contrast from the form of government that we had prior to the Revolution: the form of government in which the Executive, the King, had the power to take us to war. He did not need the Parliament to weigh in on it, to support it. That was the Parliament’s job after the fact, after we had gone into war. This, Hamilton explained in Federalist 69, is exactly the reason why this power [to declare war] was put in the branch of government [Legislative Branch] most accountable to the people at the most regular intervals.”
“When we send our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines into harm’s way, we owe the American people the decent courtesy to follow the Constitution. To debate and discuss these actions. For them to tell us that either through a War Powers Act resolution, or otherwise, for us to debate and discuss these things on the Senate floor would somehow weaken the American cause, and embolden Iran, I find very insulting.”
“It is not acceptable for officials within the Executive Branch of government…to come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional. And it’s wrong.”
Senator Rand Paul (R) KY, followed Lee in saying he too would support the Democrat-led war powers resolution. That may not come as much of a surprise to those who know Paul’s history. But it may come as a huge surprise to those who know how close Paul’s become to the President, and how staunch a defender of Trump he’s been of late.
That resolution’s expected to be voted on (at least in the House) today. Now, will the White House and these two Republican Senators (and maybe more) have some sort of reconciliation and come to some sort of understanding that’ll end with Lee, Paul, et. al. backing off? Wouldn’t surprise us. (Lee even presents that possibility himself.) But at least for one day, Trump and his folks finally pushed too far.
That brou-ha-ha happened around the same time the President himself delivered a brief and strange address to the American public. Strange, mainly because he spent a huge chunk of his entire time blaming President Obama for everything that’s going on with Iran right now. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taken to doing. The entire mess we’re now in with Iran. All because of Obama and his Iran nuclear deal. And none of it because Trump ripped that up.
If you don’t believe us, you can watch it by clicking on the photo below. Trump’s whole address is around 10 minutes long. Minutes 5-8 focus on Obama. (That’s more time than he takes to explain why he killed Iran’s top military commander, Qassem Soleimani).
The President says he’s going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process. But doesn’t say how. And immediately segues into boasting how much money he’s spent on the U.S. military and how much more powerful he’s made it. (As we’ve suggested, Trump’s actions in Iran are likely to weaken NATO, because why would Germany, France, and the U.K. step in on Trump’s side, especially after he screwed them over by ripping up the Iran-nuclear deal)?
Trump urges those remaining co-signers of the Iran nuclear agreement: Germany, France, the U.K., Russia and China to totally give up on it and support his framework for approaching Iran. However, he offers no information about that either beyond “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism”. Which is part of what those former partner nations thought they were doing when they hammered out the nuclear deal in the first place, only to have Trump abandon it. (Pretty extraordinary to get Russia AND China AND Europe AND the U.S. signed on to anything.)
Then Trump boasts:
“We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.”
Only here he fails to mention that originally happened during President Obama’s time in office, and instead takes the credit for himself. We won’t go too far into this today, but there are a whole bunch of problems with his assertion anyway. Because first of all, the U.S. still imports a lot of oil, a lot of it from the Mideast. And secondly, there’s no such thing as a non-global oil market. Even if the U.S. produces all its oil, if there’s a massive shortage elsewhere in the world, prices will soar in the U.S. too. That’s because if U.S. producers can get more money for their oil somewhere other than the U.S., they will. So a lot of what Trump’s got to say about that is a delusional isolationist myth of his own devising.
But now that we’ve done that, let’s say what Trump blames Obama for vis-a-vis Iran is partly valid. Even if Obama didn’t “give” Iran money as Trump always portrays it, just unfroze money that was already theirs, as part of the deal. And how Iran spent it, maybe we don’t know.
Still, this is Trump’s first time talking to the public after he killed a top guy, mobilized U.S. forces, and got shot back at by Iran. He took nearly 30% of your time griping about Obama. Why still so darn obsessed?