The Corner

Politics & Policy

John Yoo’s Defense of Trump

John Yoo, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, makes the constitutional-conservative case for President Trump as well as it can be made.

Among the assumptions that underlie his argument:

Statements of intent to take unconstitutional action don’t count against the president so long as they do not ultimately come to fruition.

It’s contradictory to fault the president both for failing to perform his constitutional duties and for trying to exceed his constitutional powers.

Trump’s using emergency powers to get border-wall funding after Congress rejected it is totally unlike Obama’s implementing an immigration amnesty after Congress rejected it.

Trying to get Ukrainian officials to work with Trump’s personal lawyer to start an investigation of Joe Biden can reasonably be characterized as an exercise of the president’s power over law enforcement.

In early 2019, Yuval Levin and I took a much less sympathetic look at Trump’s constitutional record. But it is certainly true that if you believe the above propositions, that record looks better.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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