Heather Cox Richardson

Right? And I find easier with every passing day to imagine Trump enacting those powers.


That is very scary.

There may be a document that was prepared during the Eisenhower administration and periodically updated, but without Congressional oversight I’m not sure if five members of the USSC will rule in favor of a sitting president suspending habeas corpus.

Trump is already on the record maintaining that the Covid-19 will magically disappear and is no big deal. I hope that the USSC will agree that his window for grasping at emergency powers has closed.


Just saw the video version of this:


Could this be the real reason his administration has been acting to make the situation worse? That would explain all the bizarre inaction and pushing to put more people in harm’s way. :thinking:


My thoughts (okay, fears) exactly.

Thanks for the video, gotta find time for it later.


Presidential emergency powers are suddenly in the air. 3 hours ago, HCR did a post about them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she takes up the topic In tonight’s post. Then again, maybe this is her Sunday post.

Lots of you are asking about the PEADs mentioned on television this morning. For those of you who are concerned, here’s what I wrote about them in April, after an op-ed about them appeared in the New York Times. This post also features a line from Trump saying that the Democrats “want to try and win an election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win,” which speaks to the topic of my post of last night, and which may be of interest to some of you, as well. I am not reposting the notes to the April 12 post here, but they are on the post itself, which you can find by using the search tool on this page. H.

April 12, 2020 (Sunday)

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Elizabeth Goitein and Andrew Boyle of the highly-regarded Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, calling our attention to the fact that Trump has at his disposal extraordinary emergency powers. The authors tell us what they have been able to discover about a highly classified series of documents called “presidential emergency action documents,” or PEADs.

These documents are drafts of laws, executive orders, and proclamations that could be used in case of emergency. The government began to hold these drafts during the Eisenhower administration out of fear that a nuclear attack would require an immediate response. We know very little about what is in them, but the declassification of a few of them has revealed that, if implemented, they would allow the president to arrest people at will, jail “subversive” citizens, and declare martial law.

While people are alarmed at the revelation that such PEADs exist, it’s actually no secret that the president can unleash extraordinary powers in times of emergency through other means. Even without the PEADs, the president can seize assets, have people arrested, shut down electronic communications, and so on, and there is little limit to how and when these powers can be used. Under the National Emergencies Act, passed in 1976, in any emergency declaration the president has to specify which powers he intends to use, and tell Congress every six months how much the government has spent on the emergency.

Congress can override the president’s declaration and must reauthorize it every six months, and the emergency declaration expires after a year unless the president renews it. But the system has permitted “emergencies” to take root unchecked. Currently, more than thirty emergency declarations are in effect in America, and Congress has made no effort to end them.

Emergency powers are not necessarily a bad thing: a nation’s leader must be able to respond quickly to a crisis. The problem is the existence of emergency powers that have no legal guardrails. Indeed, the authors of the New York Times op-ed are not necessarily against the draft orders; they simply want Congress to oversee these secret PEADs.

And that’s the rub. The problem the op-ed identifies is not really the PEADs. The problem is that Trump is the man who has them at his disposal.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has worked to expand his power, and the novel coronavirus crisis is encouraging this inclination.

Just recently, he has fired the intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, admitting openly that he did so to retaliate because Atkinson alerted House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff that then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was withholding a whistleblower complaint that, by law, he had to turn over to Congress.

Trump has announced he will not comply with the oversight provisions in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
His lawyers are currently arguing that the president and those who work for him do not have to comply with subpoenas to turn over his financial records to Congress or to a New York official investigation because the president is immune from a criminal investigation while in office—even if he shoots someone on Fifth Avenue (yes, one of the judges who rules on the issue asked about that, specifically). [NOTE: THIS CASE WAS RECENTLY DECIDED AGAINST THE PRESIDENT]

Trump demands that White House officials praise him in public and won’t put up with criticism. Just tonight he retweeted a tweet calling for the firing of top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, who recently said that the administration’s slow response to the novel coronavirus has cost lives.

Last week, complaining about the media coverage of his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus, he said that Democrats “want to make Trump look as bad as they can, because they want to try and win an election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win based on the fact that we have done a great job.”

“An election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win.”

It seems clear that emergency powers in the hands of such a man could enable him to destroy our democracy.

But here’s what’s key to remember: Our system has a built-in remedy for a president who abuses his power. Our Constitution requires Congress to check a runaway president. The House of Representatives is trying hard to do so, but the Republican Senate refuses.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has consistently supported Trump as he has attacked our democracy, and a terrific piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker today explores why. In a piece entitled “How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-in-Chief,” Mayer argues that McConnell is determined to wield power above all else, and believes that the only way to do that is to control huge financial resources to get his party’s candidates elected. To gather those resources, he needs to work with wealthy donors, including business leaders for whom he does favors.

McConnell is virtually shutting down Congress to avoid taking up anything that would upset Republican donors. At the end of 2019,” Mayer writes, “more than two hundred and seventy-five bills, passed by the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, were sitting dormant on McConnell’s desk.” These included an enormously popular bill for lowering the costs of prescription drugs, but McConnell, who gets more contributions from the pharmaceutical industry than any other senator, refused to take it up, saying he opposes “socialist price controls.”

Political scientist Norm Ornstein of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute says McConnell “will go down in history as one of the most significant people in destroying the fundamentals of our constitutional democracy.” He told Mayer, “There isn’t anyone remotely close. There’s nobody as corrupt, in terms of violating the norms of government.”

McConnell is no fan of Trump, but needs him. McConnell is enormously unpopular in his home state of Kentucky. Voters there love Trump, though, and McConnell’s ratings go up whenever he bolsters the president. So while he works to keep money flowing into the coffers of Republican Party leaders, McConnell is careful not to cross Trump, no matter what he does. In turn, his fellow Republicans cannot buck McConnell without losing access to the money and favors that will keep them in office.

It is indeed dangerous that Trump has such sweeping emergency powers at his disposal, but the problem is not the emergency powers. The problem is the president and the Republican senators, who could check Trump’s increasing authoritarianism at any time, if only they wanted to.


Yes. Also, because I assume such documents from people who suffered that time are not many. Klemperer’s diaries are an especially rare case, because they basically cover the whole period, and were written by a man who later analysed the language of the time: he was well equipped to understand what was happening around him and his family. Which he basically really understood only in hindsight.

This is what makes journalling so interesting. Hindsight.

We might look back on our exchanges here, on what HCR wrote, and our private little panoply of writings, pictures, videos and ask ourselves what we understood at the time.


Yes, also scary. Scarier? On paper, yes. Would reality bear it out? Questionable. It would only be if he could get away with a significant portion of it. I don’t think he can, given the vocal dissent from within the Republican ranks about stuff as small as clearing a church yard with tear gas. He would need a night of the long knives putsch to really be able to successfully execute a lasting power grab. Also, the markets. The financial system that we have would react poorly to an upending of the entire system.

Mostly, I feel intense revulsion at this man and his sycophant henchmen and women. But there is a sadistic 1% of me that says, yeah you go ahead and try it, buddy, we’ll see how it works out for you. Defiantly. But that would mean a lot of death and suffering, so obv the best outcome is he never gets an opportunity to try any of it. He really does need his ass kicked.




Yeah, nothing is certain. So unpredictable, and yet we just knowwwwwwww he’s gonna try SOMETHING. What will it be?


I don’t know where to put this. Please suggest where you think it should go. It seems useful in this context with HCR’s writings, but is still somewhat off-topic. It’s Michael Moore’s latest post (from FB). The copy-paste destroyed double carriage returns, sorry…

by Michael Moore
Trump, right now, tonight, is up to some very nasty, scary stuff — stuff we can’t even imagine — and of course we can’t imagine it because we don’t think like Trump. Our brains are wired for love, empathy, solidarity, compassion, freedom, person, woman, man, camera, TV.
You know like I know that Trump has a devious, wicked plan to destroy this Election. We need to declare, immediately, that it is he and the Republican Party who have to go, for the sake of this country’s existence, they must be crushed and removed.
Trump actually has an arsenal of plans already in action to ensure he never leaves office. He has them all in high gear — some visible, some not. If you could see them all you’d be so stunned, you’d have to immediately convince yourself that there’s no way he can pull this off.
We are all caught in Trump’s Matrix, a mad web, the work of a psychopath-in-chief with tricks so devious that fascists of old, if alive today, would marvel at what Trump has accomplished.
For the next 11 weeks — and then for the 12 weeks between the Election and the Inauguration — Trump is planning nothing but anarchy, chaos, a call to arms of his angry white male followers and the complete destruction of our democracy. You think I’m kidding? You think I’m overstating the case? Do you want to take the risk that I might not be wrong? Most of you understandably chose not to listen to me four years ago when I warned you Trump was going to win the Presidency by taking Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. May I please ask that you now give me your serious attention for what I am about to say — because if I’m right again this time, there won’t be a next time. There will be nothing left for me to warn you about. There probably won’t be much left of me.
Here’s how Trump plans to end our right to choose the next President and Congress. It will happen fast. I am also laying out here a battle plan for us to defeat this takeover of our democracy. We must act now.
PLAN #1: Create Chaos. Instill Fear. Fire Up the Base with Racist Vigor. Pandemonium Ensues.
PLAN #2: Suppress the Vote
•Dismantle the Post Office.
•Create 4-Hour-Long Lines by Drastically Reducing Number of Polling Locations.
•Throw Black and Brown Voters Off the Rolls.
•Stop Those Who’ve Served Time from Voting.
•Place 50,000 “Poll Watchers” at Voting Sites Around the Country to Intimidate Voters.
PLAN #3: Postpone the Election. Place the blame on a “legitimate” national tragedy or emergency — massive deaths from the pandemic, a terrorist attack, an assassination, a deadly hurricane, a civil war in the streets, one or both Presidential candidates falling ill to Covid-19 — anything that reasonable people, even people who are opposed to Trump, will agree that “we just can’t hold an election right now! We just need to postpone it for a couple days, a couple weeks (a couple months… a couple years…)” Or perhaps he’ll just cancel the Election outright and see if he can get away with it.
PLAN #4: His September Surprise.
His October Surprise.
His November Surprise.
His January Surprise.
You think you can guess what it will be, but trust me, it’ll be far worse. We need to be ready. Stay on high alert, my friends. Millions of us will need to act on a moment’s notice. It’s the grim reaper of Democracy at our doorstep. We made the mistake of letting Trump get this far — why wouldn’t he now think he can get away with everything??
PLAN #5: He Will Not Leave.
When Trump loses, he will declare the Election invalid, rigged, stolen — and he will refuse to step down.
So, what will we do then?

  1. Do Not Wait — Biden/Harris Should Start Running the Country Now.
    We simply don’t have time to wait until January 20, 2021. Nearly 200,000 of us have already died from Trump’s reckless incompetence with the coronavirus. By Election Day it’s possible another 100,000 to 200,000 of us will have needlessly died. A total of 400,000 dead? That’s the equivalent of one hundred and thirty-three 9/11s! Or 532 planes being flown into 532 buildings. If something that horrific ever happened, and the President not only didn’t do anything about it, but tried to pretend it wasn’t all that bad - “it is what it is” - he would be run out of the White House by an angry mob of millions of Americans, lucky not to have his head put on a spike on the Key Bridge over the Potomac.
    It doesn’t have to come to that. Biden and Harris should present to America a simple nationwide plan to end the pandemic — and then act on it immediately.
    They should call a meeting of all the Governors and ask them what help do they need — and then find a way to get them that help, going around Trump and just making it happen. They should ask industry, in lieu of campaign contributions, to produce hundreds of millions of instant-result tests. They should call their Heads of State friends overseas and ask them to send all the PPE they can spare. They should get 250 million Americans to take the “Face Mask Pledge.” And they should promise the scientists in our top universities all the money and help they need once they’re in office. Ignore Trump. Treat him as if he’s irrelevant and get the job done.
  2. The Republican Party Must Be Crushed and Destroyed. Trump Must Become the Last Republican President.
    In the Michigan county where I live, the August primary this month set a record turnout for a presidential-year primary. In fact, more people this year voted by mail-in ballot than ALL those who voted in 2016 — by mail-in AND in-person combined. This is a highly encouraging sign for what we now need to do:
    • We must create an historic massive turnout between now and November 3rd — a tsunami of voters the likes of which have never been seen, and may never be seen again. In 2016, 66 million Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. This time, though, we have to WALLOP Trump with an electoral concussion, a blow so profound he won’t know what hit him. This must be a defeat so crushing, so humiliating, a whooping of such epic proportions that he will be forced to leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with his tail between his legs on January 20th. This mammoth landslide must not only ensure that no president ever behaves this way again, we need to see to it that Trump is the last Republican president. The Election Day Uprising must put an end to this party of Trump enablers and traitors. They had a choice. They chose Trump over Democracy. They chose Putin and Netanyahu over fair elections and freedom for all. They chose the 1% over the 160 million working Americans. They chose the NRA over the massacred children of Sandy Hook. They chose to rig our elections, our textbooks, our economy. Democrats helped them along the way, and we’ll take the stick to them and fix that. The Republicans, though, chose to let hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens perish from Covid-19 because loyalty to Party and to Trump was greater than their duty to the American people. For that alone, the Republican Party must be put out of business for good. Vote out every last one of them. Conservatives will have to form a new party, much like when the Whigs were sent packing in the 1800s. The Republicans must pay for their crimes.
    • We must flip the Senate —- and not just by the three seats we need for control. We should shock the pundit class and, as the Republican Party is reduced to ashes, grab a solid 55+ seat majority. Colorado, Arizona, Maine, North Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and even Kansas, South Carolina and, yes, Texas (a state that is now 57% non-white) — are all possible Democratic Senate wins. Think about spending a weekend or a week helping out in one of these states. The Republicans will wish they had managed this pandemic better and had everyone busy back at work by now. All this “free time” should make for their undoing.
    • Finally, we have to vote the local Republicans out of office, too. State Houses and Senates will be drawing the electoral map for the next ten years. We can’t let the cheating Republicans do this again. Do what you can to elect Dems in your state and local elections. The punishment of the Republican Party — a certified terrorist organization for having helped kill at least 200,000 Americans — is an imperative.
  3. Who Would Be Willing To, If Need Be, Put Their Life on the Line To Ensure This Election Is Held and EVERYONE Gets to Vote? I Would. Would You?
    These steps must be taken immediately:
    • The Secret Service, the FBI, the Capitol Police and the Joint Chiefs of Staff must be called before Congress and swear under oath that they will guarantee that the election will be held, they will enforce the Constitution they swore to uphold, and if he’s defeated but refuses to leave, they will escort the former President of the United States out of the White House.
    • Biden and Harris must put Trump on notice that if he does one more thing to interfere with the Election or issues one more threat to suppress the vote, they will turn him and his crime family over to the new Justice Department for prosecution.
    • Every single one of us must be strong in our publicly-stated resolve that there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON ON EARTH TO POSTPONE OR CANCEL THE ELECTION. That’s our unmovable and intractable position. No national tragedy, disease, threat or the melting of all of Greenland will cause us not to vote on or before November 3rd. Even if, God forbid, either candidate passes in their sleep between now and Election Day, the Election will continue — and the winner’s VP - or Nancy Pelosi - will become President on Inauguration Day.
    • Let’s all pledge that, if Trump tries to cancel the election or if he refuses to accept its results, millions of us will go to DC and encircle the White House, a thousand deep, until he backs down, resigns or is removed.
    • And, if you can, quietly make this commitment to yourself: “There are only a very few things I’d be willing to give my life for. This is one of them.” I know. That’s dark. And heavy. And awfully sad because it shouldn’t have come to this. But if we can’t even say that, then what good are we? If we aren’t willing to make that sacrifice, then America is already over and we might as well just fold our tent and see if Canada will take the non-racist, non-homophobic, non war-mongering ones of us who have manners and get satire.
  4. Become an Election Defender.
    Each of you should form an urgent action group - a rapid response team - in your neighborhood or town and do the following:
    • Hold a daily protest at your local post office
    • Picket the home of your local Postmaster (he/she may be on your side, so bring them some baked goods)
    • Chain yourself to a local blue USPS dropbox if you can find one. Or chain it to something that won’t move.
    • Sign up with the city clerk to be a poll worker on Election Day - especially if you’re young. Because of the pandemic, polls will be very short of poll workers. If you’re told they have enough help, then call the local Democratic Party and offer to be a “poll watcher”, the group of people from each party who get to oversee the voting to make sure there are no irregularities.
    • Demand your city create more voting locations. Convince owners of arenas, theaters, ball parks, malls - places with large open spaces - to offer their facilities as polling places so that everyone gets a chance to vote.
    • Canvas your neighborhoods over the next month to get people to fill out the form you’ll have them sign to get a mail-in ballot — and if they want to vote in person, let them know when the first day is so they can do that. Make a list of who needs a Covid-safe ride. The earlier the better!
  5. The Uprising We’re In Is Only Getting Bigger. The People Will Now Call the Shots.
    Why wait for the politicians to fix the mess of a country we’re in when they helped orchestrate the mess in the first place? Why don’t we just declare how we want to live — a new way to govern and function as a country — and we will finally fulfill the promise of the American Dream that has never been realized. Life, liberty, true equality, a sharing of the wealth, being good citizens of this world and kind stewards of a fragile Earth.
    What have we learned from this pandemic? What we already knew: That employer-based health insurance can evaporate in an instant. Health care is a human right.
    That being told “we can’t afford that!” (free college, free child care, free medical care - the things most advanced nations have) is total BS — the government CAN afford anything we decide we need!
    We’ve learned that teachers, nurses, the mailwoman, farm workers, mass transit drivers and the minimum wage workers stocking the grocery shelves at 3 in the morning are our most important citizens and they need the respect and income they deserve immediately. 74% of the country now believes a guaranteed annual income is a great idea — fifty percentage points higher than when Andrew Yang proposed it 7 months ago!
    We’ve learned to slow down, consume less — and that is what may be the path to saving the planet (when the 4% of its inhabitants [US] is no longer sucking up 25% of its resources and hoarding more than half its wealth).
    We’re about to go elect more women than ever before — a time to turn the reins over to the gender that stands a better chance of getting us through the deadly viruses of Covid, Capitalism and Republicans(R.I.P.).
    None of this will be launched by politicians. It will only come about through you and me taking action as part of the largest protest movement in our history — still growing, still going strong! — to end the racism, the abuse of the police state, the disgusting income inequality and the hateful misogyny that is going to come to an end in our lifetime.
    America, post-pandemic, must become a very different place. Let’s make this happen. Doing the above will be the best cure for the trauma of these past four years.
    Commit to being the change.
    Organize your friends and family today.
    Make your plan to campaign in a swing state Sept. or Oct.
    VOTE AS EARLY AS YOU CAN—and take 5 people along with you!
    We can do this. Trump - we’re coming for you. I’ll be in the first U-Haul truck that pulls up to your door.

THIS. Be the leaders now, when all they have is a platform, and show the country what real leadership is like. Because when it comes down to it, real leaders don’t need the trappings of power to lead. They listen, learn, organize, and set a vision for the future that gets people to buy in to the work that needs to be done to achieve it.


I mean there’s precedent. Nixon got Kissinger to go to Vietnam to stall the peace talks so that the war would drag on so he could win. Reagan did the same with Iran and the hostages. Okay so they were probably both technically treasonous but that never seems to have stopped the Republican party.


That’s quite the missive. I would suggest giving this its own thread.


I agree - I just need time to reformat it and post


I was discussing this with a fellow non-USian some weeks ago. We were wondering what would need to happen to have people flock to Washington and just demand Trump to resign. That was about 50k deaths ago. Many things happened since then, I thought many of those would have ended any other presidency.


The list of “would have ended any other presidency” goes back to the campaign. The only answer I can come up with is that the endless barrage of scandals just leaves us too exhausted to focus on any one thing. That and his unbelievable cult of personality keeping the republicans in line for him.


That seems very much to be the case.

But back to the question which haunts the rest of the world: what needs to happen before people actually start showing up in vast numbers at the WH?

  • Trump trying to dissolve Congress?
  • Trump involving presidential emergency powers?
  • Trump postponing the elections?
  • Trump declaring not to accept the vote and refusing to step down?
  • Trump getting (para-)military units to shoot protesting people on sight, Maidan style?
  • Trump actually shooting Joe Biden on 5th avenue?
  • Putin publicly declaring and possibly proving that Russia helped Trump win?
  • Nothing of the above?
  • Something else entirely?

0 voters

ETA: as of August 20th, 8 out of 10 people believe that killing protesters in the street with snipers would be necessary for the American people to force out Trump.

I will leave this poll open and will look at it after the election, or when Trump removed. Whichever comes first.


I think you’re missing something like “massive scales of hunger and death.” A lot more death then we’ve had so far.

There is of course a lot of individualism, and its many manifestations, to be overcome here.


Yeah, I’m thinking that he has to directly hurt his base in their wallets somehow.

There is a poll that came out in the last day or so that has Biden ahead EXCEPT with the economy. There are a lot of people who still think that Trump is better for the economy.

I’m gobsmacked.