President Trump and the White House threatened this week to use emergency powers to bypass Congress and construct a wall along the southern border of the United States. This would constitute an unprecedented step by the president that raises serious legal concerns. CREW filed Freedom of Information Act requests for any advice about presidential emergency powers to better understand the legality of and true motivations for declaring a national emergency.
Vice President Pence stated publicly that the White House Counsel’s Office is examining the president’s ability to declare a national emergency to fund the border wall. This raises serious concerns that the president is considering actions of doubtful legality based on misstated facts and outright falsehoods to bypass Congress’ constitutional authority to make laws and appropriate funds.
CREW requested all opinions written or received by Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense (DOD) that discuss in any way the power of the president to invoke emergency powers to declare a national emergency including, but not limited to, the president’s power to invoke those powers to build a wall or other type of barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico. CREW also requested expedited review based on the serious media interest in the matter, and the urgency that the public be assured of the government’s integrity in addressing the situation.
The requested records will shed light on the legality of the action the president is threatening and the extent to which he may be motivated to advance a political agenda rather than address a true need to invoke emergency powers.