I have long been an originalist, strict construction libertarian believing as did Mr. Jefferson (the slave owner and sage) that "the best government is the least possible." The trick being to discern what the least possible might be.
Therefore I find it odd that I am somewhat disturbed by what is being said on the Democratic Party side of Congress, in the MSM and by the left wing commentariat about what they say or imply are the very narrow limits of presidential power.
As a reminder, the federal judiciary is not part of the executive branch of the federal government and the president has no control over them except by exploiting the ambitions of judges for promotion on the bench.
In their rage against DJT, the left are claiming:
1. That the Attorney General and the Department of Justice are not really subordinates of the president and that they are somehow exempt from his control. This, in spite of the fact that the AG is appointed by the president, is a "line" subordinate and serves "at his pleasure." That means that the president can fire an AG at any time, for any reason or for no reason in particular.
2. It is said with a pious air of violated rectitude that Trump fired all the US Attorneys across the country. For those who do not know, these are the federal prosecutors in each federal court district, They are politically appointed employees of the Justice Department, not the courts, and it is a normal practice to replace them all in a new administration.
3. Brennan, Clapper and Rogers stage managed a paper back in January that asserted that the IC believed various things about Russian government tinkering with the US election (much as the US does in other countries' elections). The paper was represented to be an IC wide opinion (like an NIE). In fact the paper was the work product of two of Brennan's analysts. Clapper gave it his imprimatur as DNI. Admiral Rogers at NSA could not get his people to express more than limited confidence in it and Comey at FBI joined the chorus wearing his intelligence "hat.". DIA, State Department INR, the Army, Navy, Air Force and other agencies were either not consulted or did not deign to "sign on." DJT thinks this is a "rum deal," a phony politically motivated procedure run by a group of "hacks.". Why would he not think that? But, no matter, the reaction of the Left is to excoriate him for his lack of "respect", for these people. Once again, these people have no legal or constitutional existence outside the framework of the Executive Branch. Any president can dismiss them at will No president is under any obligation at all to accept their opinion on anything. They are his advisers and tools in his kit box. and that is all they are.
4. Tillerson at State has the rapt attention of the Left in his every utterance. Any expression of DJT"s displeasure with Tillerson's opinions is described as irresponsible. Once again, DJT can fire Tillerson tomorrow.
5. And then there are the generals. Mattis acts as though he has been sub-contracted the future of the world and that Trump is just a nuisance. McMaster does the same. In fact they are as much his creatures as any of the others.
Enough! The US federal government is not a parliamentary government. DJT is not "first among equals" as is the PM in a parliamentary government.
The president's powers are limited by law and the constitution but not by custom, tradition or opinions.
The Democrats should think through how much they will not want these ideas of an incredibly shrinking presidency to be applied when next they win the WH. But then, they will have the Leftist press behind them. pl