Global Pulse: Trump’s potential constitutional crisis, shootout in Jordan and a grey rhino problem in China

File image of Donald Trump. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

TRUMP TWEET ON PARDONS SUGGESTS CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s cryptic tweet suggesting that he has “complete power” to pardon aides, family members and even possibly himself, legal experts debate whether such decisions might lead to a constitutional crisis. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, three eminent legal experts—two of whom served White House ethics lawyers—stated unequivocally “No, Trump can’t pardon himself.”  

Citing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case,” Laurence Tribe, Richard Painter and Norman Eisen wrote that “The [U.S.] Constitution specifically bars the president from using the pardon power to prevent his own impeachment and removal.” They add that “President Trump thinks he can do a lot of things just because he is president… there will be legal repercussions if he does.”

Trump’s comments on pardoning came after yet another week of increased scrutiny over allegations that his campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. election. In an interview with the New York Times published last Wednesday, Trump said that he never would have hired Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general had he known he would recuse himself from the investigation, suggesting doing so was “very unfair” to the president.

 

SHOOTING AT ISRAELI EMBASSY IN JORDAN

A shooting at the Israeli Embassy in Jordan early Monday morning highlighted the increasing tensions between Israel and its Muslim-majority neighbors over increased security measures at a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem. Two Jordanian gunmen were killed after wounding an Israeli, local security forces revealed. Though the gunmen’s true motivation is still unclear, the shooting came after thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman Friday to protest Israel’s new security measures.

Israeli officials announced Sunday that it would keep newly-installed metal detectors outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, a site holy to both Muslims and Jews, despite international pressure. The metal detectors were installed after a July 14 shooting at the site left two policemen dead, but prominent Muslim leaders say their presence constitutes a provocation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his government would cease security cooperation with Israel until they were removed, while the Arab League warned that Israel is “playing with fire” by keeping the barrier in place.

 

CHINA’S CONCERN OVER “GREY RHINOS”

While financial analysts fret over “black swan” events—surprising changes in fortune that could spark an economic crisis—the New York Times reports that experts on the Chinese economy are more concerned with “grey rhinos”. “Grey rhinos” are substantial and visible economic issues that could metastasize if ignored. The term rhinos also refers to a series of large, powerful Chinese companies that are heavily indebted to state banks and thus key subjects of new regulation. Prominent examples include Anbang Insurance Group, Fosun International and HNA group.

“The downside of these new companies is that there was no one with the political or regulatory strength who could control [them],” said Brock Silvers, who runs Kaiyuan Capital in Shanghai.

The Chinese government, realizing that these companies’ excessive debt and numerous questionable deals might pose a risk to the nation’s economy, has begun cracking down on the companies to prevent financial crisis which could create instability for the ruling Chinese Communist Party.   

 

DEMOCRATS’ TRY TO TOP TRUMP ON DEAL-MAKING

Six months into Trump’s presidency, with the left preoccupied with preventing the president’s agenda from becoming law, Democratic leaders have launched a new campaign, entitled “A Better Deal,” to counter Republicans’ plans. Riffing on the title of President Trump’s bestselling book The Art of the Deal, Democrats plan to unveil “A Better Deal” Monday, as part of an effort to combat accusations of obstructionism. A majority of respondents in a recent poll indicated that the Democratic party currently “just stands against Trump” and does not have a message of its own.   

In an op-ed outlining the plan in the Washington Post, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote that “The past six months have exposed the toxic special-interest priorities at the core of the Republican agenda.”

“With a Democratic Congress, a better deal is exactly what Democrats will give them,” she added, implicitly recognizing that any Democratic policy proposals have little chance of passing if they do not reclaim majorities in Congress in upcoming elections.

 

PROTESTS ACROSS POLAND AIM TO PROTECT JUDICIARY

The Polish government’s plans to place the nation’s judiciary under political control led to widespread protests across the country this weekend. In cities across the country demonstrators argued that the new law, which would remove all Supreme Court justices not appointed by the party’s justice minister, represented the beginnings of a new dictatorship in Poland.

Speaking in Gdansk, Former President Lech Walesa urged a crowd to fight to protect the gains of Solidarity, the pro-democracy organization that helped push for free and fair elections as the Soviet Union fell in the late 1980s. The European Union and other international observers agree that the move would strike a tremendous blow to the nation’s independent judiciary.

After garnering a slim parliamentary majority by winning 38 percent of the vote in 2015 elections, the right-leaning Law and Justice party has sought to expanded its power substantially in recent years in ways that have caused considerable friction in Poland’s relationship with the European Union.

 

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