Government & Politics

What Constitutional Crisis?

Trump's firing of Comey does not fit the bill, but there was a president whose entire strategy was to cause such crisis.

Brian Mark Weber · May 12, 2017
Remember this guy?

When Donald J. Trump was sworn in as our nation’s 45th president, Democrats experienced an epiphany. They suddenly came to embrace the ideals of the Founding Fathers and to celebrate our Constitution and its separation of powers as the pillars of our civilization. Except that it’s all smoke and mirrors. Democrats don’t give a wit about the Constitution, and they loathe the very barriers that our Founders put in place to stop lawless, self-serving politicians.

President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey is a case in point. We knew that the reaction from the Left would be hypocritical, nonsensical and overly dramatic. And we knew Democrats would condemn the firing even though many of them had previously suggested that Comey should be fired. It wasn’t even surprising when they said it was wrong for Trump to fire Comey, but a President Hillary Clinton could have done it. But leave it to the Democrats to go off the deep end by claiming that Trump’s decision to remove Comey from his post has put us in the midst of a “full-fledged constitutional crisis” — those are the disgraceful words of Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, but other Democrats have run around screaming the same thing.

Columnist David Harsanyi writes, “[T]he firing of Comey is not a constitutional crisis until there is evidence that it is. Democrats have spent months impugning Comey’s integrity, after all, and most Republicans weren’t exactly fans either. When Politico asked a number of experts whether the Comey firing rose to the level of crisis, refreshingly enough, all but one was reluctant to say yes. They were inclined to wait and see what happens.”

You see, Democrats aren’t really upset that Comey was sent packing. What’s really irking them is that they’re absolutely convinced Comey was on the precipice of revealing information on Russia and the Trump administration that would have led to impeachment hearings. This isn’t a theory or even a hope. They really believe Trump canned Comey to avoid some bombshell revelations that aren’t there in the first place.

And this is precisely why President Trump mentioned in his termination letter that Comey told him three times he wasn’t under investigation. There is no bombshell. And there certainly isn’t a constitutional crisis. The FBI director serves at the pleasure of the president, and the president has the authority to fire him. Plain and simple.

We may not like the timing of the decision, we may not like the president’s reasoning, or we may not like the optics. But even if Comey had the goods on President Trump and was about to bring down his entire administration, we still wouldn’t face a constitutional crisis. All the mechanisms are still in place for the FBI and the Congress to pursue their investigations, and to take them wherever the facts lead.

So if the Comey sacking isn’t a constitutional crisis, what is?

Keith Wittington, a political scientist from Princeton University, identifies two components that make up a true constitutional crisis: “when important political disputes cannot be resolved within the existing constitutional framework” or when “important political actors threaten to become no longer willing to abide by existing constitutional arrangements or systematically contradict constitutional proscriptions.”

Clearly, neither of these scenarios apply to the Comey firing. Trump has not exercised any extra-constitutional powers, nor have the powers of any other branch of government been threatened or undermined in the process.

What does a real violation of the Constitution look like? Look no further than Barack Obama, who forced Americans to purchase health insurance under penalty of law, who expanded the authority of the executive branch to curtail Second Amendment freedoms, who selectively targeted Christians and conservatives through the IRS, who refused to enforce immigration laws, and who enacted a unilateral treaty (unratified by the Senate) that sent billions of ransom dollars to an Iranian regime that is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and whose nuclear ambitions threaten not only the Middle East but the entire world.

And this is just a short list of actions taken by Obama to either push the Constitution out of the way altogether, to ignore what it clearly states, to change the way it’s interpreted, or to dream up presidential powers that our Founders would have found despotic.

Our 44th president was lauded by the mainstream media as a constitutional scholar, yet he acted without any regard to the boundaries or limitations of the Constitution on countless occasions. ObamaCare alone has done more to break down the separation of powers and the tenets of federalism than any program since the New Deal. He swore to uphold the Constitution and then simply disregarded it for political expediency and empowerment. Now that’s a constitutional crisis.

For more than a century, progressives have trampled all over the Constitution, only to treat it as a sacred text when they need to expand their own power or to destroy their political opponents. When Democrats can’t get things done through the system of checks and balances designed by the Founders, they simply find a work-around. If Congress doesn’t take action, Democrat presidents write executive orders that broadly expand their power. Or they turn to leftist judges who warp the meaning and intent of the Constitution.

Say what you will about Trump’s firing of Director Comey. You can call it ill-timed, unprincipled, self-serving, unprecedented, or politically foolish. But you can’t call it a constitutional crisis. The only crisis we face today is that Democrats are willing to cloak themselves in the Constitution in order to destroy a president they couldn’t defeat at the ballot box.

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