NORMAL — President Donald Trump may be violating political norms, but he isn’t necessarily violating the Constitution or abusing executive powers, a panel of three Illinois State University professors agreed Tuesday night.
Speaking on “The Trump Presidency and Executive Power,” the professors of politics and government covered topics from Trump’s travel ban and actions on immigration to his pardon of former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arapaio and firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Associate professor Meghan Leonard said the stumbles Trump has made thus far are “a demonstration of what political noviceness gets you,” but she added that some people like that he doesn’t follow the norms.
Trump’s chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, could change that as he brings more order to the White House and controls access to Trump, according to professor Lane Crothers.
“What happens comes down to a battle for the soul of John Kelly,” said Crothers, and if Kelly succeeds “you’ll see President Trump emerge into a somewhat normal president.”
But Trump has to want to change for that to occur, he said.
Associate professor Thomas McClure said, “I think he struggled with the issue,” noting he has at times expressed support for those who were brought to the United States as children but also has to appeal to his base of support.
But Leonard called it the action of “a political novice.”
McClure thinks Obama exceeded his power with DACA in the first place, while Leonard said it can be seen as using his power to tell bureaucracy how to enforce the law.
“It costs a lot of money and resources to deport people,” she said.
“The pardon of Joe Arpaio is an abuse of the law, but it is within his power to do so,” said Crothers.
Leonard said even though it was legal, the pardon was not a good idea.
“This is a blatant attack on the judiciary,” she said. “He has not quite figured out the balance between the executive branch and the judicial branch.”
Crothers said, “There’s nothing unique about a president coming in and struggling at the beginning.”
He thinks there is one thing on which leaders in both parties would agree.
“If they had one wish granted to them, it would be that Trump’s tweeting device be taken away from him.”
Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter @Pg_Sobota