Keeping in mind that there has been no official announcement, a Politico report that the Department of Justice is requesting new emergency powers during the COVID-19 outbreak went over online like a lead balloon.
The Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General Bill Barr, “has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States,” Politico reported.
In an article published Saturday, the news source said it had reviewed documents that detailed requests to lawmakers which reportedly included topics such as the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted.
Ironically, there’s concern that President Donald Trump may try to take a page out of Barack Obama’s playbook and not allow a serious crisis to go to waste.
“The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes,” Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan wrote. “Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims.”
The Justice Department has declined to comment on the documents that are said to support the claim.
The president did liken himself to a “wartime president” in battling the pandemic, and on that note, Abraham Lincoln did suspend the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War.
Of all the many online responses to the story, this one may be the most prescient.
Here’s the problem.
I don’t believe POLITICO is accurately conveying what is in these documents.
If not, next. https://t.co/aWt9K7qrnn
— RBe (@RBPundit) March 21, 2020
At the same time, the liberal media wasted no time disseminating the story and the reaction to what would effectively amount to suspending the Constitution was quick and came from all sides.
The ferocity of the response was captured best by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. In all caps, Lee tweeted late Saturday: “OVER MY DEAD BODY.”
In a follow-up, he called on Trump to “please refute and disavow this immediately.”
@realDonaldTrump, please refute and disavow this immediately.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 21, 2020
Lee would also add: “If it’s not a joke, we’ve got much bigger problems. If this is a joke, it’s not funny.”
From across the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was quick to jump on the opportunity to elevate himself by feigning concern over what may prove to be a non-story — if a request was made to Congress, wouldn’t the top Democrat in the Senate be aware?
Two Words: Hell No. https://t.co/AGlo7cz20i
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 22, 2020
The one certainly with Trump and his critics is that if you stick around long enough, everything goes full circle.
The president has been called a fascist dictator almost from day one, and when he did not declare martial law and lock down the nation in the face of the Chinese virus, there were complaints that he was not being a fascist dictator.
And now, with the Politico report, Trump is once again being called a fascist dictator.
Here’s a sampling of responses that pretty much covers the entire political spectrum, from Trump-hating liberals to Never Trumpers, and also those genuinely concerned about protecting civil liberties.
Hell, the opportunity to reject the idea was such low hanging fruit that even hard-left socialists who would be the first to eschew the Constitution were quick to jump in:
No, no, hell no. Also no. And by the way, no. https://t.co/xdsM3zrmTS
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 21, 2020
— Tom Maxwell (@universalshow) March 21, 2020
Well, that’s ominous as hell with Trump in the White House. https://t.co/DyphGf7mXX
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) March 21, 2020
Some of these might make sense TEMPORARILY, but even those require serious checks on them to ensure they can’t be extended indefinitely at the discretion of the White House, no matter who is president. https://t.co/3jEahZwcdz
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) March 21, 2020
WTH? I repeat — there is no good reason to suspend due process in our quest for health and safety. It doesn’t matter who is doing it or whether “for your own good.” This better be fake news…. https://t.co/cuMExURwvn
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) March 21, 2020
We will not comply! https://t.co/cwkRm3DkBX
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 21, 2020
Trump was always the ideal man to drift-in hard Fascism in the United States. This is the opportune moment… https://t.co/2DNMyK5HMq
— Patrick Henningsen (@21WIRE) March 21, 2020
Absolutely not. https://t.co/buaiiU92Xk
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 21, 2020
This is what authoritarians do.https://t.co/kourBJh58J
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) March 21, 2020
So here it is. I have been waiting for it. Barr has been salivating for this for a long time. They are using the pandemic as an excuse to speed up the destruction of America democracy. https://t.co/fxBJjbKq3q
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) March 21, 2020
Throughout history, tyrants have used crises to undermine the rule of law.
Amid this crisis, we must not turn a blind eye to Trump’s abuses of power.
Congress must reject this power grab. https://t.co/bafUxnNA9m
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 21, 2020
Holy shit what happened to due process? https://t.co/KQKeAU5CxE
— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) March 22, 2020
Congress must loudly reply NO.
“The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies.” https://t.co/B0TL8y6Sbh
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 21, 2020
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