DCReport's David Cay Johnston says like a king or a tinhorn dictator, US President Donald Trump threatens to force his way into the House of Representatives

*This article comes from DCReport and is used with permission.

By David Cay Johnston*

In a breathtaking display of both ignorance of our Constitution and contempt for its principles, Donald Trump declared in writing Wednesday that he would deliver the State of Union address on the House floor on Jan 29.

“It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!”

Trump has no right to set foot on the House floor, nor, for that matter, the Senate chamber.

Congress is equal to the Executive under our Constitution. Indeed, the principal duty of the president is to do what Congress directs within the confines set by the federal courts.

As the leader of an equal branch, the House Speaker decides who may enter the House chamber, just as Trump controls who may enter the White House. Similarly, the Supreme Court, the third equal branch, determines access to federal courts.

Trump would know this had he simply read the opening two sentences of  Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s letter Jan. 3 letter inviting him:

 “The Constitution established the legislative, executive and judicial branches as co-equal branches of government, to be a check and balance on each other. The Constitution also call the President to ‘from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.’”

Should Trump try and enter the chamber there is no doubt that Speaker Pelosi would direct the Sergeants-at-Arms to block his way.

Trump’s letter is a serious threat to our Constitutional government, not the mere “tit-for-tat” squabble being portrayed in the mainstream press, which too often treats all arguments and facts as equal instead of declaring falsehoods, lies and manipulations for what they are.

Trump’s conduct here is better reported the way newspapers and broadcast programs cover heinous crimes, in which suspects and convicted offenders are normally not treated as having an equal argument to those who enforce the law.

Trump is the 100% cause of the current shutdown.

On Dec. 11, during a live national television broadcast from the Oval Office where he was meeting with Pelosi and the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, he said, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. … I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

Just ten days later, Trump tried to escape his responsibility, tweeting “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”

Immediately upon becoming Speaker on Jan. 3 Pelosi had the new House vote for the Senate Republican spending bill. That tactic allowed her to hoist Trump and any Republicans who stayed with him on their own budgetary petard.

When Trump later refused to negotiate with Democrats, walking out of one meeting and calling it a waste of time, Pelosi withdrew her invitation to speak on Jan. 29. However, Pelosi agreed to a later date—after the government fully re-opens. Pelosi wrote:

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after the government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.”

It’s not likely Trump would make such a foolish move as trying to force his way into the House chamber. However, since he has staffed the White House with utterly unqualified people, and the few with even modicums of competence have been fired or quit, it is also not clear who would explain the basics of our Constitution to Trump. (Remember when candidate Trump promised voters that he would only appoint the best of the best? Now he can’t even find someone to be his chief of staff.)

Pelosi responded to Trump’s plan, reiterating Wednesday afternoon her position that once the government opens up fully the president will be welcome.

Trump, in characteristic fashion, replied with a lie: “The State of the Union has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth.”

Of course, the majority of these annual presidential reports have not been delivered by the sitting president on Capitol Hill. Trump is free to just send a letter, for example, or give a radio address.

His fact-free response is just the latest example of how America is being run by the would-be tinhorn dictator of a banana republic who that holds himself above any law. Another example of Third Worldism: Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer, said he will not appear to testify before a House committee next month because Trump and his television lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, are threatening his family. Trump, egged on by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, threatened to investigate Cohen’s father-in-law, an act so audacious that even right-wing news organization covered it.

Should Trump go to Capitol Hill next Tuesday, it may prompt discussion of what happened when a British dictator, King Charles I, asserted that Parliament be damned, he could do as he pleased. Charles I was removed from office, convicted of treason and, 370 years ago, beheaded on Jan. 30, 1649.

Under our Constitution we use impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors, followed by a trial in the Senate, to determine if a president should be removed from office and, upon conviction, banned for life from public office.

Much as Trump spars with Pelosi, his conduct shows that it is the Office of Speaker he holds in contempt, a sign of his dictatorial instincts.

When Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, came to the Oval Office to talk about healthcare, Trump had no interest in listening to the Speaker.

“Trump sipped on a glass of Diet Coke, peered out at the Rose Garden, stared aimlessly at the walls and, finally, walked out. Ryan kept talking as the president wandered down the hall to his private dining room, where he flicked on his giant flat-screen TV,” according to a Washington Post report.

Much more about the chaos in a White House run by people with no appreciation of our Constitution is revealed in “Team of Vipers,” a book to be published the same day as the State of the Union was to be given. Cliff Sims, a Trump loyalist who served on the White House staff, is the author of the book, already at No. 8 on the Amazon bestseller list.

According to Sims, “It’s impossible to deny how absolutely out of control the White House staff—again, myself included—was at times.”

Trump’s letter reeks of his belief that he is a ruler, not an executive manager, a belief also demonstrated in his many remarks expressing admiration and even his love for murderous dictators including Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, Xi Jinping and the Saudi royals, who three years ago beheaded 40 men for the offense of praying for government reform.

Trump’s letter may come with a thin silver lining. It could provide an opportunity to rid America of this annual exercise in using a government platform for partisan political purposes.

Our Constitution does not require such a speech. It only demands that the executive “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

In the 230 years that our Constitution has been in effect, only 95 times has a president delivered his required report in a speech before Congress.

Thomas Jefferson found the practice, begun by George Washington in 1790, offensive to our Constitutional system. Jefferson thought the forum was too close to the annual address from the throne by British kings. America’s propaganda ministry, the Voice of America, which broadcasts overseas, reminded listeners of this just last week.

“For Thomas Jefferson’s first address on Dec. 8, 1801, he sent written copies to both houses of Congress to be read by each chamber’s clerks. Jefferson wanted to simplify what he believed was an aristocratic imitation of the British monarch’s speech from the throne, which he thought ill-suited for a republic,” the propaganda ministry report stated.


*David Cay Johnston is Editor-in-Chief of DCReport and a Pulitzer Prize winning US investigative journalist. He featured in this interest.co.nz video interview last year.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

55 Comments

How dare a POTUS plan to deliver a state of the union? What an evil orange racist LITERAL Hitler! Soon he will change the name to United State of Nazis and start exporting bananas.

Behold the Divided States of America in the next decade.

The USA was there before the PRC existed and the USA will be there when the PRC is gone.

China has a long long history of authoritarian rule with a supreme Leader / Emperor. At least a couple of thousand years. They had a civilisation when my UK ancestors were covering themselves in blue mud to keep the cold out. Not a civilisation as long as Egypt's but exceptionally long. USA is very recent in comparison. A Chinese leader was once asked whether he considered Napoleon as a good or bad emperor and answered it was too soon to tell. I expect President Xi would say much the same about American independence.

I never said China itself would collapse, merely this current iteration of it.

That's why I said 'PRC', not 'China'. Communist dictatorships have a much shorter shelf life.

It might be true, but it's irrelevant in the context of this subject. Trump is indeed a domestic mess America needs to sort out.

If Trump hasn't paid his chauffeur, he'll be walking there.

Biggest problem facing the USA today is that out dated Constitution,which allows so much and yet allows nothing.

up
16

David Cay Johnston does not reflect mainstream public opinion in the US , in fact he is way off the mark .

I was in the States last year , and we down here in NZ are way out of touch with the man in the street American .

I was surprised at how many people in all walks of life think Trump is good for America , and I can assure you , the people I saw are not red-necks in trailer parks , but professionals and business people , some of whom have business interests here and in Oz .

They are fed up with Washington's politics and the leftist agenda of academics and liberal media hacks

We have a rabidly anti -Trump media in NZ literally every paper , every website and every new bulletin has an anti -Trump thread or leaning , and Kiwis sit here in the mistaken belief that almost everyone in America hates Donald Trump .

Its simply not true

I fully support the media, and all the facts indicate orange man bad!

Hard to judge mainstream USA Boatman, however, my contacts in the Texas area are rabid Trump supporters and are unwavering. The border or wall is a big issue for them. So I agree, you are largely correct in what you are saying. The question is, will the pendulum swing?

I agree, many of my friends are highly critical of past governments, the decline in living standards, along with needless wars and 120,000 US military personal who have committed suicide since the Iraq war.

These problems started with Clinton trying to take out Bernie Sanders. The problem now is that if they lift the lid on the rot I suspect that they would find collusion with the UK intelligence services and and the FBI/Democrats that would make many in the US very very angry.

Stunning number of suicides so I checked and it seems about right. But not that exceptional for military veterans. ""As a whole, the risk of suicide among female veterans was 2.4 times higher than among civilian women in 2014, the study found. By contrast, male veterans faced an 18 percent higher risk for suicide than their civilian counterparts in 2014.""
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-veterans-suicides-idUSKCN10E2RN

My daughter just got back from Sacramento, same old place she tells me but noticeably more homeless than when she was their three years go. She stayed in the Bay area and really didn't feel that safe even in a good area.

California is a Democrat stronghold so it's no surprise to see social indicators in decline, yet the virtue signally continues to reach greater heights. Ironical.

Yes Mr Boatman the people we lived amongst over there in the early 2000’s, and who we still know well and respect, are not at all dismayed by President Trump. President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. President D Roosevelt helped himself to four terms. President McKinlay declared war on Spain for neither legal nor valid reason and President Bush junior did ditto for Iraq. The thing is in the USA if your own backyard is in order and happy, then the world is just fine. But over here, at the far end of everything, we are just so busy yapping and telling everybody else, what they should do in their own backyard!

FDR was elected to 4 terms as president - he didn't "help himself" - the change came due to the 22nd Amendment passed in 1951 - some 6 years after his death.

Indeed BR, he was elected fair & square each time. But since Washington there had been an unwritten covenant that Presidents would restrict themselves, voluntarily, to two successive terms. Because of WW2 involvement looming in 1940 this was obviously a very perilous & demanding time but it had the GOP seething, even though ironically, FDR had gathered many Republicans around him in critical cabinet posts. Just like Lincoln in the civil war, FDR was a dead certainty again in 1944 for re-election and you could easily argue there was no better man for the job on each of these occasions, but each was little short of a no contest. Even though he was broke and presiding over one of the most corrupt administrations ever, President Grant honoured the covenant, he would have been a dead certainty too for a third term. Instead the GOP had to then manipulate the election for Hayes.

My read of the article is that he is not trying to reflect the opinion of the masses, but merely offering analysis based on the legal position of Congress v the President based on the constitution.

In many respects the current spat justifies the publics frustration with the political elite in the US. They voted in Trump due to that frustration, the others are still in denial as to why that happened. The question that they must face, and us too, is where will it all lead to? As the consequences with affect the whole world.

LOL. I lived there for years. Everyone I know *loathes* him. Even the Republicans.

So what have we learned? Nothing. Your anecdotes about the man on the street are as meaningless as mine.

They should build a wall to stop Dump from delivering anything!

Orange man baad.

Trump Derangement Syndrome
Yes, NZ public only receives the Clinton Network News CNN version from NZ Media.

I’d make a critical remark about the caliber and credibility of this author, but it would no doubt be removed by today’s editor.

A few weeks ago I pointed out an author’s case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, only to have my comment removed. For shame!!!

https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/97537/brazilian-president-bolsonaro-j...

It’s fascinating watching the media contort itself into anguished knots over Trump.
CNN has virtually destroyed itself & its credibility by running 24/7 anti-Trump attacks.
Commentators just cannot understand what has happened - the school yard is not running by their rules any more. So they are bringing a kind of madness down on themselves.
Secondly - amazingly, nothing seems to stick, Trump continues on, where other politicians would have buckled, resigned or lost their party. How does he keep going? “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key..” Churchill.

Maybe this will help you. Or this original document.

??. both links are the same

Thanks - do you mean that his ratings are actually quite good (relative to the negative media which would make you think his approval rating is 10%)?
E.g. On the Economy - 49% approval, 43% Disapproval

If you cherry pick....dont be so deluded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhQfhQ7y1dM

Your stance however shows how extreme far right you really are, I will remember that context.

One thing stands out, is how most people feel 'strongly' about every issue, while a minority are more ambivalent and very few are being neutral.

That Townhall article is brilliant (& funny).

Muellers office said the Buzzfeed article was "inaccurate". Not wrong, not misleading,or any other word to say it does not contain some element of fact. It was very much a slap with a wet bus ticket type of rebuttal.Time will tell how inaccurate it actually was.

Well if you read extreme right crap, I mean "...a report so full of Schumer that even Mueller and his pack of Democrat activists had to shout...."

yeah right.

Absolute Rubbish, CNN has been asking the hard Qs and Mafioso trump does not like it.

"nothing sticks" I think you need to check the AP polls,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW3dzugp2eA

he's the one being politically destroyed, 34% is death knell to his re-election chances.

Wow... the first paragraph has a serious factual inaccuracy, followed bya rather one sided diatribe. I personally think that Trump is a buffoon and that quite a few of his policies and goals are not very appropriate. But to see this level of fake news kinda gets me to want to defend him. Where did the cheeto claim that he would be forcing himself into congress to deliver the SOTU as is claimed in the first paragraph? The quote says only that he thinks it would be sad if it wasn't. ..

This is kinda like the fake "Vietnam vet" native drum banging episode of a couple days ago that took over the Internet with a very edited video clip. Watching the numerous unedited clips provide a very different conclusion as to who was the provacateur. Interestingly, the entire media went with his being a Vietnam vet despite knowing his age, and with the dates of the Vietnam "police action" being public record, not a single MSM challenged the narrative. He would have had to join the USMC at the age of 14 in order to be a vet.

Sooo.... is this the political equivalent of Don walking into the girls' toilets?

LOL, except Congress can refuse him entry.

He's also ignoring history (surprise, surprise), until Woodroe Wilson(?) my understanding is that the State of the Union was delivered as a letter to Congress.

Will be oh so funny if Trump turns up and Congress refuses him entry as is their right.

Yes there is plenty of like history to fall back on with Presidents battling each or both houses. Jackson, Polk, Tyler, Theodore Roosevelt too. I think?

Woodroe ??

Great to read so many comments trashing this "article".

And yet Trump appears to have capitulated over the State of the Union address

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/us/politics/trump-state-of-union-pelo...

Not a good article to publish DC. Even if I hated Trump I would recognise it as just another one sided example of the collapse of the American political thinking.

When it comes to politics I doubt there are any "good" articles to publish. Polarization / partisanship appears to have become extreme and any news that is published is just a reflection of the society to which it is reporting. Unfortunately I think the US is currently in the process of self destruction - how bad it gets is anyone's guess.

Surely the US is a banana republic in all but name. Dependent on mineral wealth (Oil), silly debt level, inability to reduce deficit, money printing as fall back for poor financial management, inability to collect tax on profit shifting citizens, constantly in a state of open or limited war somewhere globally, with its, grossly over funded war machine.

Blaming this all on one guy is more fake news. Trump is probably only guilty of hiding tax and hanging out with strippers. How many US politicians would be guilty of those two?

The US is an economic machine, and at the very forefront of many innovations in every field, with a fully functioning democracy to boot. Oil is a tiny fraction of it's GDP, it probably has the most diverse economy in the world, and growing at a fantastic rate with record low unemployment.

Orange Man Bad

OMaBa!

I'm thinking that maybe interest.co.nz should be running articles from borowitz reports, newsthump, and maybe even the onion. The weird aspect to me is that rather than those sources, DCReports doesn't explicitly state up front that it is satire. From the "about" on the DCReports website, "We are founded on core investigative journalism principles of research, fact-checking, and reporting in plain English..." It appears that they have strayed a bit from their foundation principles.

I guess all is okay as long as it gets filed under "opinion". Sanity checks are evidently not done anymore once one files with an opinion byline. Sad...

An intelligent and accurate article of just how Trump is making a mess of US would be a nice counterpart to silly opinion screeds such as this one. IMO, the clear fallacies and obvious yellow "journalism" of this hit piece is likely to increase polarization. The naive credulous will believe what was written and despise Trump. The discerning will see the fallacies and the "fake news" aspect of the reported fallacies and respond with some sympathy to Trump with an increased disdain for the media source that publishes such rubbish.

If in fact Trump was making a mess, would you see rate hikes if the economy were in trouble? Unemployment at record lows, tarrifs now bringing in enough to fund a 5.7 billion dollar wall - every month. It is hard to see how he is doing anything but win, win, win.

There may be some win with Trump. Just as there was some win with Obama and Clinton. I see a bit more lose with Trump than with Obama, to continue the comparison. I get that erudition may not be coincident with good leadership. That said, conducting diplomacy via twitter is amusing, as well as sometimes embarrassing. It appears that maybe I have become fossilized, as twitter is being used in a similar manner by democratic politicians as well as republicans. This goes with the increasing shallowness of information depth wanted by the public. I'm extremely disappointed with the fact that Trump removed all of his health care reform platform statement promises from his campaign website on the night he was elected. Real health care reform is sorely needed in US. BTW, obamacare is not health care reform. That does not address any aspect of the medical monopoly that currently exists in the US. It would be wonderful to see some anti-trust actions against big pharma as well as the medical providers. It appears that this isn't going to happen anytime soon. The tax cut thing, while not reining in spending... definitely not appropriate IMO. The desire to reduce illegal immigration, that is a very good thing IMO.

The Mexican tariffs haven't even been ratified yet. Even if they were, it is the American consumer that is paying , not Mexico.
The only thing he has really achieved is the tax cuts , which equates to $ 1.50 a week , for the average worker. Alot more for the rich corporations of course.

Trump on Fox News. "our opponents are proposing a 70 % tax rate . They cant do what they want to do with that . They need to look at twice that number".
140% tax rate . OKKKKKK,