U.S.

Fox News Legal Analyst Says Trump Violated Constitution's ‘Separation of Powers’ Three Times in Past Week

Fox News’ senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano warned that President Donald Trump had continued a “very dangerous trend” by violating the Constitution’s “separation of powers” three times in the past week alone.

Napolitano, who formerly served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge, used his weekly Fox News digital episode of Judge Napolitano’s Chambers on Wednesday to explain that the Constitution’s framers had intended for power to be separated into three branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. He said that Trump had made three decisions in the past week that violated that framework.

“We call it the separation of powers,” Napolitano said. “The president can’t write the laws, the Congress can’t put somebody on trial and the courts can’t determine tax rates,” he said. “That is at least the theory of the Constitution.”

GettyImages-1149371035 President Donald Trump speaks during the White House Historical Association Dinner in the East Room of the White House on May 15 in Washington, D.C. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The former judge said that for more than a century now, “more and more power” had accumulated in the executive branch, or the presidency, because of a disregard for the separation of powers, which Napolitano called a “very disturbing” and a “very dangerous trend.”

Napolitano outlined three recent directives from Trump and explained how they violated the Constitution. The first was the president’s order to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to not purchase a missile defense system approved by Congress and instead use the funds to construct a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Second, the former judge cited Trump’s order to send troops to secure the border, pointing out how it violated the separation of powers, because the president’s oath does not allow military forces to be deployed to deal with domestic issues. Napolitano also argued that Trump’s decision to impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods was akin to levying a “national federal sales tax” on American consumers, which the president did not have power to do under the Constitution.

“It is dangerous when presidents write their own laws, impose their own taxes, spend money how they want and Congress looks the other way,” Napolitano asserted. “It’s dangerous because its too much of an accumulation of power in the presidency, and it imbalances that delicate balance that the separation of powers created.”

GettyImages-1135092229 President Donald Trump tours the border wall between the United States and Mexico in Calexico, California on April 5 SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers have tried to challenge many of Trump’s controversial decisions, using arguments similar to those made by Napolitano. The president’s efforts to reappropriate money approved by Congress for other uses to his border wall faces court challenges and bipartisan criticism.

Trump’s escalating trade war with China has also drawn controversy. Although the president has repeatedly insisted that the Chinese will pay the tariffs, economists and industry experts said that was inaccurate. As Napolitano explained, the tariffs are essentially additional taxes on American consumers. China will likely experience significant economic fallout as its products become significantly more expensive in the U.S. market, potentially leading consumers to seek out cheaper alternatives, but the Chinese will not be paying the tariffs.

Larry Kudlow, the president’s director of the National Economic Council, conceded that “both sides will suffer” as a result of the tariffs during an interview on Fox News Sunday

Join the Discussion

Editor's Pick