US presidency gains more power with Trump’s acquittal
Washington: President Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal has delivered the White House a fresh coat of power, sparking worries over the rise of an “imperial presidency.”
His victory in the Senate trial on Wednesday accelerated a decades-long shift in the US government in which Congress has steadily ceded authority to the Oval Office.
The presidency hit a low in the 1970s, after Congress wrested authority away following Richard Nixon’s Watergate abuses.
Since then, each successive US leader has sought to further dominate the legislature.
Trump, though, has sparked anxiety: he flaunts his power, and has an attorney general who favors a strong presidency and a Republican Party unwilling to restrain him.
One of his impeachment lawyers claimed Trump is free to do whatever he wants -- even cheat in elections -- if he believes it is in the national interest.
Trump himself says, citing the US Constitution: “I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”
Monarchic power?
“It is now arguable… that Donald Trump may well have become the most powerful president in American history,” historian Jon Meacham said after Trump’s trial closed.
“President Trump is functionally a monarch at this point. If the king does it, it’s okay.”
After suffering under the British king, the architects of the US system of government crafted a constitution in 1789 that gave the legislature strong checks on the powers of the new nation’s chief executive.
Lawmakers held the upper hand mostly through the early 20th century, until, faced by existential emergencies -- the Great Depression and then World war II -- president Franklin Roosevelt rode roughshod over Congress to take action.
Since then, “we have seen a steady increase over time in the independent powers of the presidency,” said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.
“Presidents are encouraged, I think, to grab as much power and make as much of a difference during their one or two terms as they can.”
“This is not just a Republican thing. It’s presidents of both parties,” said Rozell. - AFP