Trump has long been operating under the assumption that he can essentially do whatever he wants as president of the United States — legality be damned. However, now that his term is almost up, it seems that his tendency to skirt the law is finally starting to catch up to him. At least, when it comes to his habit of blatantly ignoring the laws that govern presidential appointees, anyway.
Earlier this week, a federal judge in Maryland, Paula Xinis, barred the Trump administration from enforcing new asylum rules after determining that acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is most likely illegally serving in his position.
But as it turns out, Wolf is far from the only Trump appointed official that’s living it up in a position they’re not even legally allowed to have.
Just last month, a report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli was also serving in his government position illegally, in addition to Wolf. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.
The Constitutional Accountability Center has determined that at least 15 Trump officials, spanning no less than a dozen executive branch departments, are holding their positions illegally as a result of Trump skirting the Constitutional laws surrounding presidential appointees.
According to the US Constitution, a president is required to seek the Senate’s advice and consent before officially appointing any individual to official government positions.
The Appointments Clause of the Constitution requires the president to obtain “the Advice and Consent of the Senate” in order to “appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.”
Alexander Hamilton explained in The Federalist No. 76 that this law was enacted because the Framers recognized that giving a president the “sole disposition of offices” would ultimately result in a Cabinet “governed much more by his private inclinations and interests” than that of the good of the nation — Which, let’s be honest, is precisely what Donald Trump has done.
The Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) was enacted in 1998 and features a strict 210 limit on vacancy appointees — something that has blatantly been skirted and downright ignored by the Trump administration as dozens of acting officials remain in their roles far past the expiration date outlined by the FVRA.
It’s certainly true that the 2020 presidential election is just around the corner. However, it’s crucial that we don’t get lax about holding Trump and his administration accountable for their blatant disregard for the laws and Constitution they’re sworn to. Frankly, there is a lot of damage that can still be done between now and January’s inauguration. Now simply is not the time to get soft.
Featured image via Senior Airman Ridge Shan