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 »
"Four Iranian ships made reckless maneuvers close to a U.S. warship this week, the Pentagon said Thursday, in an incident that officials said could have led to dangerous escalation." The four Iranian vessels engaged in a "high-speed intercept" of a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz. A Navy spokesman said the Iranina actions "created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures" by the destroyer.
Amid public outcry and the threat of investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mylan has agreed to effectively drop the price of EpiPens. "The company, which did not lower the drug's list price, said it would reduce the patient cost of EpiPen through the use of a savings card, which will cover up to $300 of EpiPen 2-Pak."
Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit effort in the United Kingdom, appeared at a Trump rally in Mississippi yesterday. Farage told the 15,000-strong crowd: "Remember, anything is possible if enough decent people are prepared to stand up against the establishment."
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.