Pentagon says using military budget to build border wall would be illegal

One of the more popular conspiracy theories to justify President's Trump signing of the spending bill full of the Democrats' priorities is that President Trump had a "secret plan" for building his border wall with Mexico.  Why President Trump would need a secret plan to pay for his border wall when he has always maintained that Mexico will pay for it is unclear.

In any event, the plan is said to go as follows: President Trump is commander in chief.  As such, he can order the military to do as he wishes, including building the wall.

President Trump, who repeatedly insisted during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border, is privately pushing the U.S. military to fund construction of his signature project.

Trump has told advisers that he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall.  He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling project, citing a "national security" risk.

But the military is not likely to fund the wall, according to White House and Defense Department officials. 

The Pentagon has plenty of money, but reprogramming it for a wall would require votes in Congress that the president does not seem to have.  Taking money from the 2018 budget for the wall would require an act of Congress, a senior Pentagon official said.

Many of you are thinking, why doesn't Trump simply order the Pentagon to do this?  Trump can order this, but what he would end up with are mass resignations in the Department of Defense, the same kind of resignations he would generate in the Department of Justice if he tried to order the firing of the independent counsel.

But even if the Pentagon were on board with this, the wall still wouldn't get built.  That's because a federal judge would stop the process before it begins, due to the patently unconstitutional nature of the act.  The attempt to build the wall would be tied up in courts for the remainder of Trump's presidency (which, after having signed this spending bill and others like it last year, looks increasingly likely to be one term).

If Trump really wanted a border wall, he should have vetoed the spending bill, taken the case to the American people, and fought for it.  Campaigning incoherently via Twitter ("Build wall through M!") is a lazy substitute for actually going out and speaking to the American people as Ronald Reagan did.  Reagan had a much more hostile Democratic Congress, but because he was willing to veto, because he was willing to fight for his agenda, he got much of it accomplished.  President Trump wants to win without fighting for it, and the results are obvious.  Res ipsa loquitur.

This is what we get for having a president who has no understanding of how governing, or the legislative process, works.  President Trump thinks he can sign bills into law and then reinterpret them as he wills.  When Obama did this, we called it a subversion of the Constitution.  When Trump tries to do this, he is hailed as brilliant.  But neither Obama nor Trump is a king – only president.

Actions have consequences.  When Trump signed the spending bill, he committed to a set of results.  It's a pity we don't have a president who understands how separation of powers and the legislative process work.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.

One of the more popular conspiracy theories to justify President's Trump signing of the spending bill full of the Democrats' priorities is that President Trump had a "secret plan" for building his border wall with Mexico.  Why President Trump would need a secret plan to pay for his border wall when he has always maintained that Mexico will pay for it is unclear.

In any event, the plan is said to go as follows: President Trump is commander in chief.  As such, he can order the military to do as he wishes, including building the wall.

President Trump, who repeatedly insisted during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border, is privately pushing the U.S. military to fund construction of his signature project.

Trump has told advisers that he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall.  He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling project, citing a "national security" risk.

But the military is not likely to fund the wall, according to White House and Defense Department officials. 

The Pentagon has plenty of money, but reprogramming it for a wall would require votes in Congress that the president does not seem to have.  Taking money from the 2018 budget for the wall would require an act of Congress, a senior Pentagon official said.

Many of you are thinking, why doesn't Trump simply order the Pentagon to do this?  Trump can order this, but what he would end up with are mass resignations in the Department of Defense, the same kind of resignations he would generate in the Department of Justice if he tried to order the firing of the independent counsel.

But even if the Pentagon were on board with this, the wall still wouldn't get built.  That's because a federal judge would stop the process before it begins, due to the patently unconstitutional nature of the act.  The attempt to build the wall would be tied up in courts for the remainder of Trump's presidency (which, after having signed this spending bill and others like it last year, looks increasingly likely to be one term).

If Trump really wanted a border wall, he should have vetoed the spending bill, taken the case to the American people, and fought for it.  Campaigning incoherently via Twitter ("Build wall through M!") is a lazy substitute for actually going out and speaking to the American people as Ronald Reagan did.  Reagan had a much more hostile Democratic Congress, but because he was willing to veto, because he was willing to fight for his agenda, he got much of it accomplished.  President Trump wants to win without fighting for it, and the results are obvious.  Res ipsa loquitur.

This is what we get for having a president who has no understanding of how governing, or the legislative process, works.  President Trump thinks he can sign bills into law and then reinterpret them as he wills.  When Obama did this, we called it a subversion of the Constitution.  When Trump tries to do this, he is hailed as brilliant.  But neither Obama nor Trump is a king – only president.

Actions have consequences.  When Trump signed the spending bill, he committed to a set of results.  It's a pity we don't have a president who understands how separation of powers and the legislative process work.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at Newsmachete.com.