In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Trump said he would try to use this interpretation to try to force the passage of health care, immigration and “various other plans” decrees over the next month. .
Constitutional scholars and human rights activists have also highlighted the deployment of federal paramilitary forces against protesters in Portland as a sign that Trump is ready to use this broad interpretation of presidential powers as a way to suppress basic constitutional rights .
“This is how it starts,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor of constitutional law, wrote on Twitter. “The dictatorial thirst for power is insatiable. If ever there was a time for peaceful civil disobedience, that time is upon us.
Yoo became famous for a legal note he wrote in August 2002, when he was an assistant deputy attorney general in the office of legal counsel at the Department of Justice.
He said: “Necessity or self-defense may justify interrogation methods that may violate the“ criminal prohibition on torture ”.
Memos written by Yoo have been used to justify waterboarding and other forms of torture of terrorism suspects at CIA “black sites” around the world.
In a book called Defender in Chief, due for release next week, Yoo argues that Trump is restoring the powers of the presidency envisioned by the drafters of the U.S. constitution.
In a June article in the National Review, he wrote that a Supreme Court ruling that blocked Trump’s attempt to repeal Barack Obama’s Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals, known as Daca’s name and established by executive order, meant that Trump could do the same to achieve his political goals.
Daca has suspended deportations of undocumented migrants who arrived in the United States as children. As an example of what Trump could achieve in the same way, Yoo suggested that the President could declare a national right to bear firearms openly, in conflict with many state laws.
“He could state that he would not enforce federal gun laws,” Yoo wrote, “and that a new ‘Trump license’ would free any holder of state and local restrictions on gun control. .
“Even if Trump knew his plan lacked legal authority, he could get away with it for the duration of his presidency. And, furthermore, even if the courts declared the license illegal, his successor would have to continue to operate the program for another year or two. ”
Yoo’s article was then spotted on Trump’s desk in the Oval Office.
Constitutional scholars dismissed Yoo’s arguments as ignoring the limits on the president’s executive powers imposed by the founders, who were determined to prevent the rise of a tyrant.
Tribe called Yoo’s interpretation of the Daca decision “untenable”.
He added: “I fear this lawless administration will take full advantage of the fact that the legal wheels are slowly turning and it will be difficult to keep up with the many ways in which Trump, aided and encouraged by Bill Barr as attorney general and Chad Wolf as the acting chief of internal security, can usurp the powers of Congress and shorten fundamental rights in the area of immigration in particular, but also in matters of public health and safety. ”
Alka Pradhan, a defense attorney in the 9/11 terrorism cases against detainees at Guantánamo Bay POW camp, said: “John Yoo’s so-called reasoning has always been based on ‘What can the president do? ? ‘ rather than “What is the purpose and the letter of the law?”“This is not legal reasoning, it is inherently tyrannical and anti-democratic.”
Yoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pradhan and other defense attorneys at preliminary hearings before the Guantánamo Bay Military Court argued that the use of torture against their clients, made possible by Yoo’s 2002 memo, had largely invalidated proceedings against them.
“The fact that John Yoo is employed and free to speak out on legal matters is an example of the culture of impunity in the United States,” she said.
“Our failure to hold him (and other promoters of torture) accountable after the Bush administration allowed him to continue to operate the legal checks and balances around the presidency today.” “