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- Donald Trump’s most vocal critics are pushing for impeachment because they say he violated the constitution like an unchecked monarch.
- Leading Democrats say if Trump is not impeached, the constitution and bedrock principles of our democracy will be threatened.
- But here are three clear cut instances of Obama violating the constitution to expand executive power, and those same Democrats’ responses.
Democrats in Washington are dressing up their vain Trump impeachment efforts in the language of constitutional government and rule of law.
But leading Democrats pushing for impeachment all supported Barack Obama when he expanded executive power beyond the Constitution.
Here are three of Obama’s most egregious violations of the Constitution. And what leading impeachment Democrats thought about executive power then, versus what they’re saying now.
No Impeachment Push Over Libya
President Obama’s 2011 air war in Libya was both unconstitutional and illegal. It violated the Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Act.
That was Obama’s own position when campaigning for president in 2007:
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
Waging war with the US military is arguably the most awesome power on the face of the planet. If there’s anywhere for constitutional restraint against the absolute power of old world monarchs, it’s in the president’s war powers.
Compared to that most consequential act of a president, Donald Trump digging for dirt on political opponents during an election is laughably trivial.
But here’s what Rep. Adam Schiff, the leader of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, has to say about the Trump-Ukraine nothing burger:
the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered… That is not what the Founders intended. And the prospects for further corruption and abuse of power in this Administration or any other will be exponentially increased.
And here’s what Schiff said about Obama’s war in Libya:
I applaud the international community’s decision to stand with the people of Libya in their moment of opportunity and need.
That’s a complete 180 from Obama to Trump.
Over his two terms in office, Barack Obama vastly expanded unchecked executive power through the appointment of a number of “czars” in violation of the Appointments Clause (Article II, Section 2).
In 2009, the late Robert Byrd (then the most senior US Senator), a Democrat, called it an unconstitutional power grab, “that can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances.”
That’s because Obama’s czars took over responsibilities that constitutionally and statutorily belong to Senate-confirmed appointees.
But Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported Obama’s unchecked appointments.
Pelosi even called on Obama to appoint a “car czar” to oversee TARP bailout funds earmarked for finance companies to the auto industry.
Here’s Pelosi now that a Republican is president:
The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution.
Like Nancy Pelosi ever cared for rule of law. This glaring inconsistency gives weight to the reporter’s question about her motives for impeachment, who recently asked if she just hates Trump.
Hillary Defends Obama’s DACA
Obama violated the constitutional balance of powers again in 2012. He legislated US immigration policy via executive memo with DACA and DAPA.
As with the war in Libya, Obama is his own worst critic.
The Heritage Foundation chronicles Obama’s public statements calling something like DACA unconstitutional:
Responding in October 2010 to demands that he implement immigration reforms unilaterally, Obama declared, “I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.” In March 2011, he said that with “respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” In May 2011, he acknowledged that he couldn’t “just bypass Congress and change the (immigration) law myself. … That’s not how a democracy works.”
In August 2018, a federal district court judge ruled DACA was unconstitutional, but didn’t block it because the plaintiffs didn’t have standing in the case.
In September, Hillary Clinton said she’s “in favor of moving toward impeachment” of Donald Trump.
That same month she called fake news and foreign influence in our elections a “fundamental set of threats to the bedrock of our democracy.”
But she didn’t call for an impeachment inquiry into Obama’s unconstitutional war in Libya. (She was actually a driving force for that war as Secretary of State.) She also promised to appoint czars herself if elected president.
And Hillary defended Obama’s unconstitutional DACA and DAPA policies. Her 2016 campaign platform said:
Defend President Obama’s executive actions—known as DACA and DAPA—against partisan attacks… Hillary believes DAPA is squarely within the president’s authority…
So much for the Constitution.