Trump prevents McGahn from testifying to Congress

President Trump and his legal team are preventing former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying to Congress. The administration’s argument is that the president’s immediate advisers are immune from compelled congressional testimony on matters related to their official responsiiblities within the White House.

Ryan Goodman: How Trump’s stonewalling puts our democracy at risk

“Our legislators aren’t flying blind, but the Trump administration is preventing them from obtaining the kind of visibility that would best serve the country. Time is running short: The electoral calendar won’t bend, and the full threat of foreign interference remains unaddressed. The administration’s bad faith arguments for keeping this information secret will surely affect how federal judges view the executive branch’s position when Congress takes officials to court over the full Mueller report. Judge Mehta’s reaction to Mr. Trump’s lawyers is a signal of how this will play out.”

NY Times: The President and his power to pardon

“On its face, this authority appears unquestionable, and the Supreme Court has called it ‘unlimited.’ But in his more than two years in office, Donald Trump has found ways to wield or dangle the pardon power in a manner that departs from any established practice and even calls into question the principles of justice that undergird it…It is past time for Congress to display a more robust appetite for exploring this president’s use of the pardon power — if only to assure the public that he is pursuing his constitutional duties rather than his political interests.”

WaPo: The Trump administration owes the public answers about its restrictions on Huawei

“Under the circumstances, it is legitimate for the United States to seek greater transparency from Huawei, both about its ownership and its strategic objectives in the global market. To the extent that the Trump administration’s latest step is an attempt to bolster its negotiating position on those issues, it may be justified. If it represents a deliberate attempt to bring down Huawei and provoke a broader economic rupture with China, it may not. In that sense, the administration owes the public more transparency about its intentions, as well.”

Lock him up: Trump’s Air Force One video may have violated law

President Trump tried to give his latest attack on Mayor Bill de Blasio — a video filmed aboard Air Force One — an aura of authority, but he may have broken the law in the process. In the background was the presidential seal, which is a big no-no, according to Virginia Canter, an ethics lawyer with the non-partisan Citizens Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Misusing the seal is a misdemeanor that carries a potential penalty of six months behind bars, Canter said.

Inu Manak: Is the GOP still the party of free trade? No

“The U.S. Constitution vests Congress with the authority to regulate commerce, but over the years it has ceded that authority. If the current environment does not invigorate Republican members of Congress to work to take back this responsibility, it is hard to take claims that they value trade as a benefit for Americans seriously. Meanwhile, polls suggest that most Americans support free trade, and Democrats have surpassed Republicans as its most ardent supporters. We have yet to see whether Democrats will take up the mantle of free traders, but in the meantime, the Republicans certainly can no longer claim that title, as they continue to make excuses for the president’s actions. The party of free trade? No. More like the Grand Old Protectionists.”

David Leonhardt: Trump’s 2020 dirty tricks

“President Trump offered a preview last week of his 2020 campaign tactics, and they were ugly. He intends to use the power of the presidency to harass his political opponents and create an air of scandal around them. By doing so, he hopes to make at least some voters believe that all politicians are equally corrupt rather than recognizing that Trump himself is the most corrupt president in a long, long time.”

Stephen Vladeck: Trump can only use the Insurrection Act because Congress let it happen

“The obvious lesson here, as with the National Emergencies Act, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, the Trade Expansion Act, and others, is that Congress ought to put less faith into these political checks, and more teeth into substantive statutory limits on the president’s authorities. In the case of the Insurrection Act, some of us have been arguing as much for years. But that can’t—and won’t—happen until members of this (or any) president’s own party, and not just his opponents, privilege the separation of powers over the separation of parties.”

Immigration’s a mess

Donald Trump threw his support behind son-in-law Jared Kushner’s controversial immigration plan yesterday, but for now at least, he’s one of its only supporters, as the plan has virtually no traction in Congress. So Trump is pulling out all the stops, threatening to throw all illegal immigrants out of the country via the Insurrection Act, and to ship all migrants to Democratic strongholds across the country—a plan that has even some of his Republican allies alarmed.

House passes ‘Equality Act’

The House has passed the “Equality Act,” which includes sweeping protections for LGBTQ individuals. It is not clear if the bill will pass the Senate. The White House has also signaled that President Trump would not sign the legislation.

Nadler to White House: You must be joking

“Alternatively, Congress is building a darn good record for litigation. And finally, as an alternative or after exhausting the judicial option, Congress has enough material for at least three robust articles of impeachment. (And we haven’t gotten to a possible campaign finance conspiracy or possible financial misconduct.) In Watergate, they said to follow the money. Here, follow the letters. They’ll tell you a lot.”

Trump ‘does not want war with Iran’

Donald Trump has said he does not want a war with Iran amid rising tensions between the two countries, according to senior officials. The U.S. has deployed warships and planes to the Gulf and withdrawn diplomatic staff from Iraq in recent days, citing threats from Iran for the moves.

Trump accuses FBI of treason

Donald Trump claimed early Friday that his 2016 campaign was “conclusively spied on” and accused those responsible of all-caps “TREASON!” The president hasn’t produced any evidence for his much-repeated belief, but that hasn’t stopped him in the past.

Timothy L. O’Brien: Wouldn’t you like to know if Trump can be bribed?

“If some of Trump’s business problems accelerate then the financial conflicts of interest that have marked his presidency from its inception may become even more significant. Trump has historically put his wallet ahead of other considerations and souring businesses would make him more susceptible to outside financial and political influence than he already is – presenting, of course, a clear national security problem.”

Thousands of employers get government letters about possible undocumented workers on their staff

U.S. employers are being alerted to the names of potential undocumented workers on their staff as part of a new measure by the Trump administration. The Social Security Administration has sent “no-match letters” to more than 570,000 employers in various industries over the last two months. The letters, which alert companies to workers whose names do not match their Social Security numbers, is expected to result in lost jobs for thousands of undocumented workers.

Jamsheed & Carol Choksy: Iran, give Trump a call

“Tehran’s leadership should bear in mind that for Trump, a deal seems to be ‘horrible’ unless it is proposed by his administration. Only then can it be deemed ‘fair’ if not ‘great.’ By making his willingness for a phone call clear, President Trump is laying the groundwork for an attempt, through his bipolar style of negotiations, at an agreement bearing his signature, instead of those of the previous U.S. administration and the other world powers. As Trump stated when he exited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran deal, in May 2018, he seeks ‘to negotiate a new deal.'”

Judge Andrew Napolitano: We’ve lost sight of basic constitutional norms

“Today, presidents have basically abandoned the separation of powers Madison so carefully crafted. Three events took place last week—all at the hands of President Donald Trump—and each warrants examination from the Madisionian perspective as each assaults limited government and rejects the separation of powers. Each, as well, involves the accumulation of unconstitutional power in the branch of government that Madison feared the most.”

Donald, the aspiring dictator

The Trump administration is looking to use the Insurrection Act to remove illegal immigrants from the country. The Insurrection Act gives the president power to call upon the National Guard or military to combat “unlawful obstruction or rebellion.” If the administration decides to move forward with exercising the Act, it will certainly be met with legal challenges.

Communicator-in-chief Dan Scavino

Next to Donald Trump himself, perhaps no one understands the MAGA zeitgeist as well as Dan Scavino, Trump’s director of social media. But therein lies the problem. Yes-man Scavino enables Trump to use social media for bias-confirmation from slavishly devoted followers and, potentially, foreign trolls, rather than employing it to persuasively communicate policy choices shaped by experience and expertise.

Trump: Keep dreaming, ‘Dreamers’

While speaking in the Rose Garden, President Trump shared his new plan to overhaul the U.S. legal immigration system. His plan, which is likely to not pass through Congress, seeks to give more priority to “merit based” immigration and less to family immigration. Trump also failed to include any protections from deportation for “dreamers” in his plan.

Walter Dellinger: Democrats’ obsession with redaction is obscuring the fact that Trump committed high crime

“The more I review the report, the more absurd and misleading the we-need-to-know-more response seems to be. And the more it seems to have contributed to public misunderstanding. How different would it have been if a unified chorus of Democratic leaders in Congress and on the campaign trail had promptly proclaimed the actual truth: This report makes the unquestionable case that the president regularly and audaciously violated his oath and committed the most serious high crimes and misdemeanors.”

When Trump gives impulsive orders, his staff just ignores him

Donald Trump may be the most powerful man in the world, but there’s at least one group of people he hasn’t convinced to take him seriously: his own staff. Trump aides routinely ignore his most outlandish orders in hopes that the president will forget about them and then get distracted by something else.

Trump pardons billionaire friend

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a full pardon for former media mogul Conrad Black, who was convicted in 2007 of fraud and obstruction of justice and spent 3-1/2 years in prison. Black, who has called Trump a friend, published a book last year praising him, titled “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.”

Trump’s hard-line immigration plan

President Trump is scheduled to use a Rose Garden speech on Thursday to throw his support behind a hard-line immigration plan, developed with his son-in-law, White House adviser Jared Kushner, to move U.S. immigration toward a “merit-based system” that prioritizes high-skilled workers over those with family already in the country. The proposal is already facing skepticism from lawmakers on both sides, and there appears to be no clear path toward advancing it through Congress.

Eric Levitz: Trump is a threat to democracy…so play nice

“If Trump’s boasts about sexual assault, praise of neo-Nazis, attacks on prisoners of war, and attempts to throw millions of Americans off of health insurance didn’t persuade these people that they should remove him from office through conventional means, why would impeachment proceedings convince them that Democrats should expel Trump through extraordinary ones? After all, the whole saga would inevitably end with the Senate awarding Trump ‘total exoneration,’ thereby signaling to these low-information Americans that the whole impeachment thing had been a partisan crusade.”

Trump signs EO to protect US networks from China

Amid a deepening trade war with China, President Trump on Wednesday declared a “national emergency” via executive order to protect U.S. communications networks in a move that gives the federal government broad powers to bar American companies from doing business with certain foreign suppliers. But instead of Russia, it appears to target China.

Jill Filipovic: Lindsey Graham has sold his soul to Trump

“Graham’s toadying to Trump has been so over the top, and such an abrupt about-face, that the more conspiracy-minded on the left wonder what Trump has on Graham. It’s probably something far simpler: an attack from the itchy-Twitter-finger President can mean reelection woes — and Graham, who faces voters again in 2020, wants to stay in office”