Sunday, April 30, 2017


It's perfectly reasonable to worry that the Trump administration could eviscerate the social safety net, deprive tens of millions of people of health insurance, give a legal green light to police brutality, and possibly start World War III; that's off the top of my head, and you probably have your own list of very plausible fears.

But sorry, Josh Marshall -- this isn't going to happen:
Priebus: Trump Considering Amending or Abolishing 1st Amendment

A number of press reports have picked up this exchange this morning between ABC’s Jonathan Karl and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.... [Priebus] specifically says that the White House has considered and continues to consider amending or even abolishing the 1st Amendment because of critical press coverage of President Trump.

Sound hyperbolic? Look at the actual exchange (emphasis added) ...
KARL: I want to ask you about two things the President has said on related issues. First of all, there was what he said about opening up the libel laws. Tweeting “the failing New York Times has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change the libel laws?” That would require, as I understand it, a constitutional amendment. Is he really going to pursue that? Is that something he wants to pursue?

PRIEBUS: I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story...

KARL: ... It’s about whether or not the President should have a right to sue them.

PRIEBUS: And I already answered the question. I said this is something that is being looked at. But it’s something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue.
What do you think is going on here? I'd say it's basically what was going on when Trump tweeted that President Obama had wiretapped his phones. In both cases, Trump got angry about something and ordered his staff to validate his rage. In the case of the nonexistent wiretaps, the staff pored over documents looking for evidence that kinda-sorta proved that somebody connected to Obama did something vaguely resembling a wiretap. In this case, Trump has ordered the staff to find a way he can sue the press easily, and ... it's "being looked at," again only because the boss insists.

Even the idiots who've been hired to work in the Trump White House understand that what Trump wants can't be done without a constitutional amendment, and they know he can't possibly get such an amendment passed. Do you think Trump understands that? Do you think he knows how a constitutional amendment is passed? If you asked him to describe the process, do you think he'd get any part of it right?

Trump can't even get a health care bill through the House with a simple majority, even though his party runs Congress. How the hell is he going to get two-thirds majorities for this amendment? I suspect even some Republicans would vote no -- they'd be afraid that a future President Chelsea Clinton would use the amendment to drive everyone at Fox, Breitbart, and talk radio into bankruptcy (or prison).

It would be much easier for Trump to appoint federal judges who'll torture the law until it says that he has standing to sue the press for unfavorable stories (but future Democratic presidents won't). That seems within the realm of possibility. A constitutional amendment doesn't.

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