Republicans are outraged that President Obama ignored U.S. law and released Taliban suspects from Guantanamo without first notifying Congress. This, even as the “signing statement” that Obama attached to the law foretold his intention.
But guess whose pique is a little more nuanced.
“There have been multiple presidents who have used signing statements for different purposes, so it is wrong to speak of signing statements in blanket terms,” said Sen. Ted Cruz as a preamble to his robust criticism of the president’s decision to swap Taliban suspects for American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl.
Another leading 2016 presidential hopeful, Marco Rubio, offered a bit of the same. He dodged the question of the signing statement altogether, implying that presidents do indeed have the authority to do what’s necessary to ensure U.S. security.
“Most of these laws have a national security waiver built into them,” he said. “The more important issue here is not whether Congress received a heads-up. The most important issue is that five extremely dangerous anti-American terrorists have been released, and I think a precedent has been set.”
Many presidents have attached signing statements to legislation, but their use as tools by the executive branch to shape laws started under the Reagan administration, when then-lawyer, now-Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued a memo encouraging the expansion of executive power through such statements.
President George W. Bush issued more than 150 signing statements that declared how he intended to enforce the law, and he claimed constitutional authority to make changes or disregard parts of the law if necessary, a controversial practice that prompted the American Bar Association to study its constitutionality and ultimately issue recommendations against it.
Obama said during his first campaign for the White House that he would not use statements to nullify congressional instructions, and while he has issued relatively few signing statements compared with his predecessor, the one he is using now to defend the Bergdahl swap appears to violate that campaign promise.
There’s one Republican on the 2016 leader board who hasn’t shied away from directly addressing the use of signing statements. That’s Rand Paul, often the most vociferous critic of not only Obama but the expansion of executive power.
“I objected to Bush’s signing statements, I objected to this president’s signing statements,” he told National Journal. “That would be akin to the president legislating. It’s unequivocally unconstitutional.”
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.