Reagan Solicitor General: Trump Wants To Be An American ‘Fuhrer’, Not President
President Donald Trump is not content with the executive powers afforded him by the Constitution, according to Charles Fried, who served as solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan.
Trump is a would-be “fuhrer” or “doce” — a leader who views himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the entire nation, Fried recently told Newsweek during an interview.
As a backdrop for his assertions, Fried pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Steel Seizure Case of 1952 (Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer), which arose during the Korean War and involved a labor strike that posed a risk to American steel production — an indispensable component of the war effort.
“President Harry Truman, ‘to avert a national catastrophe’ and meet a ‘grave emergency,’ his lawyers argued at the time, issued an executive order commanding the secretary of commerce to seize control of the nation's steel production,” Newsweek noted.
In response, the steel mills sued, arguing that Truman had overstepped the bounds of his executive powers. And the Supreme Court agreed, ruling 6-3 against the president, who had argued that Article 2 of the Constitution gave him "a grant of all executive powers of which the Government is capable."
In his concurring opinion, Justice Robert Jackson wrote that the Constitution names the president as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” — not "Commander in Chief of the country, its industries and its inhabitants."
Trump falls into this same category, Fried argued:
“The first thing, which sets the context, is the rhetoric of the president, both when he was running and ever since. The famous statement that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. The assumption he makes is that by virtue of the November election of 2016, he has a mandate to be the leader of the country. The commander in chief of the country. The German word is fuhrer. The Italian word is duce.”
When Trump talks about loyalty, he is not referring to the law or the country; he is demanding loyalty to himself, Fried said.
“Where an official—for instance, the whistleblower—following the law, performing a legally defined duty, following a chain of command, does something that undermines Trump's personal situation, he defines it as espionage, as sabotage,” Fried told Newsweek. “He looks back to the days when people could get shot for doing that.”
Trump “is the commander in chief of the Army and Navy. But not of the nation, its industries and its people,” he added. “This fantasy, which obsesses this president, completely misunderstands that.”
Fried also said he disagrees with other Republicans who claim that while Trump’s effort to have Ukraine investigate his political opponent was wrong, it does not rise to an impeachable offense.
The Democrats’ articles of impeachment “argue a serious, concerted and corrupt use of presidential power for personal political gain,” he said.
As for those saying the allegations have not been sufficiently proven, Fried seemed in disbelief.
“I don't understand how much more proof you want. But, in any event, additional proof is available. It's just that the president will not supply it,” he said. “That is an additional grounds for impeachment. He has issued blanket orders not to cooperate in any respect by anyone. Now there are all kinds of valid privileges. And those could be invoked. But a blanket privilege because this is an ‘illegitimate process’? Well, he doesn't get to say that. That blanket order is itself an impeachable abuse of power.”
Fried said in his opinion — born of decades working in law, a B.A. from Princeton, two jurisprudence degrees from Oxford and a law degree from Columbia — Trump was rightfully impeached and should be removed from office.