Trump fires FBI Director Comey

James_ComeyPresident Trump fired James B. Comey, the director of the FBI.

The reason given was his off-again, on-again investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal, which Democrats blame, in part, for their presidential defeat.  But why would Trump make an issue of that, long after his election?

Democrats are claiming that the real reason is Comey’s investigation into the Russian involvement in the election and the connection between the Trump administration and Vladimir Putin.  (See this and this.)  And, indeed, if President Trump thinks that Comey had anything to do with Trump Tower being bugged, that could be a factor.

But I suspect it had more to do with Comey’s poor performance at his recent congressional testimony, in which he made inaccurate statements about Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s e-mails that he had to take back.  The White House released a memo from the Justice Department saying that the FBI’s reputation has been hurt by Comey and that a new start would be helpful.  President Trump makes decisions spontaneously, and he doesn’t like his administration to look bad.

But much of the media is playing this like Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” when he fired the people investigating his misdeeds.  You would think that the Democrats would cheer the firing of Comey.  But they have another agenda now. [Read more…]

Religious liberty in the military


U.S. Army Capt. John Barkemeyer, a chaplain, conducts mass for Soldiers on a remote contingency operating base in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy) (Released)The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod may yet again be headed to the Supreme Court, at least to the extent of having filed an amicus brief in the case of a female Marine corporal who was given a bad-conduct discharge for refusing to take down a Bible verse in her workplace.  (“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” [Isaiah 54:17])  It remains to be seen if the court will take her case.

But there are other religious liberty issues in the military.  Some relate to chaplains being ordered to compromise their faith.  Many relate to LBGT issues.

The Synod is weighing in on some of these issues in various channels.  The Lutheran Reporter has a story on the problem and the church’s efforts. [Read more…]

How Trump is reshaping the federal courts

usa-2018855_640Conservatives are happy about Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court.  But President Trump also has an unusually high number of vacancies throughout the federal court system.  And he is nominating conservative judges to fill them.

Reader DonS, who, I believe, is an attorney, drew our attention to this fact in his comment on a recent post.   He said, “I favored Trump over Clinton for one main reason — the courts. Today, Trump is unveiling his first big group of judicial nominees, and they are awesome! He is exceeding my expectations in this very important area.”

Details on those nominations after the jump.

This could be a significant and long-lasting legacy of Trump’s presidency. [Read more…]

Nullification by campaign statement

blindfolded-2025474_640President Trump’s revised travel ban is before the courts again.

Once more, the main argument against it seems to be that Trump showed an opposition to Muslim immigrants and visitors during the campaign.  Therefore, although president usually have authority in such matters, because of his campaign statements his executive order is invalid.

This makes no sense at all.  How can an action be illegal just because a candidate campaigned on it?   That would prevent politicians from fulfilling their campaign promises and would make representative democracy pretty much impossible.  The argument is that Trump’s campaign statements show that the order is biased against Muslims, but a law has to stand or fall on what it says in its own terms, not in the motivations of the person who proposed it.  My understanding is that this revised order specifically precludes discrimination against Muslims, as such.

Or have liberals been persuaded by conservative legal theorists and adopted an extreme version of “originalism,” whereby the lawmakers’ original intention determines the meaning of a law?  If so, we should expect liberals to stop invoking “the living constitution” and to start agreeing with conservatives on what the constitution means.

In the hearing before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, the judge pressed the ACLU attorney on his advocacy of nullification by campaign statement.  The attorney lurched towards an even more extreme version of relativism.  He said, in effect, that if Hillary Clinton had issued the travel restrictions, they could be constitutional.  But since Donald Trump ordered them, they are not constitutional. [Read more…]

The Republican defeat on the spending bill they passed

3237249328_4313b14e58_z (2)Republicans control the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.  And yet, in passing the spending bill to keep the government funded through September, Republicans gave away just about everything they stood for in order to get Democratic votes.

President Trump had proposed major cuts to make up for increased spending in defense and a few other areas.  The spending was increased, but the proposed cuts were dropped.

President Trump wanted to cut out funding for the arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  These survived.  So did funding for Planned Parenthood.

Some agencies that Trump wanted to cut actually had their funding increased.

Are Republicans incapable of governing?  Is their party effective only when it is in opposition?

[Read more…]

The French set-back for global Trumpism

2014.11.17_Emmanuel_Macron_Ministre_de_l_economie_de_lindustrie_et_du_numerique_at_Bercy_for_Global_Entrepreneurship_Week_(7eme_CAE_conference_annuelle_des_entrepreneurs)Many observers thought that the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union heralded a new movement in global politics, with nationalism and anti-immigration sentiment casting out establishment governments.

But in the French presidential election on Sunday, the anti-immigrant, pro-nationalistic Marine LePen was defeated in a landslide by centrist Emmanuel Macron, who won on a pro-immigrant, pro-European Union platform.

And yet there still may be something to the notion that Trump heralds a new anti-establishment political movement.  Macron won as an independent, without the support of any of the established political parties.  Both the leftwing and the rightwing parties that have dominated French politics for decades were shut out of the election.

Maybe the real contribution of the Trump phenomenon is the repudiation of conventional party politics.

[Read more…]