Friday, July 6, 2018

Day 24: No limits!

Early last month, in response to an insane comment by Rudy Giuliani, I started a series of somewhat regular calls to the DC office of my congressman, John Faso (NY-19). I wanted to know whether he believed in limits on presidential power.

I’ve kept it up (see the complete list of calls at the bottom of this post), sometimes asking other issues, such as the trade-war question included here, or the congressman’s response to the government’s kidnapping of children on the southern border.

And at times I’ve left the original presidential-powers question aside, to give the congressman adequate time to come up with an answer.

By today, I thought it was time to come back to my original question.

The short story: Mr. Faso seems unconcerned with any limits on presidential power.

(Note: This is Day 24 going by regular work days starting with June 4th as Day 1—it would have been Day 25, but there was July 4th in there. Going by calendar days, this is Day 33.)
Good morning, I’m following up on a couple of old questions of mine. Mr. Faso has made statements that he is opposed to the trade war the president has unleashed. I would like to know what action Congressman Faso is taking to actually rein that in.
I don’t specifically handle that, I will be sure to get it to the congressman’s desk. Do you have a specific suggestion?
Yes, he should work with his colleagues in Congress to craft legislation to limit the president’s ability to damage the country through pointless trade wars.
I will be sure to pass that along.
OK, I first asked that question on June 11th, three-and-a-half weeks ago. Everyone in the office there is very polite, and everyone says they’ll get my question to the congressman, but I still haven’t gotten an answer. Meanwhile, the damage is being done now. Events aren’t waiting for the congressman and his colleagues to get their act together.
I’m sorry nobody’s gotten back to you, but I will be sure to get the question to his desk.
I have another question: if the president were to kill someone who was investigating him, would Mr. Faso vote for impeachment?

I haven’t spoken to the congressman about that.
The background of course is the claim by Rudy Giuliani, speaking as the president’s lawyer, that the president is not subject to indictment, even for this specific action of killing someone investigating him. According to the president’s lawyer, the only remedy is impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate. So my question is really whether Mr. Faso believes the president should have unchecked power.
I first asked this question on June 4th, over a month ago. Again, everyone in the office has been unfailingly polite and has said they’ll see that Mr. Faso gets my question, and yet I haven’t heard anything back. It’s been over a moth and Mr. Faso hasn’t deigned to answer. So I take it he does in fact favor unlimited presidential power.
The aide hemmed and hawed a bit, but I reiterated that I had asked the question several times, starting June 4th, and still hadn’t received an answer. I explained how the logical conclusion was that Mr. Faso did in fact favor unlimited presidential power.
It may be that Mr. Faso is simply afraid to answer. Perhaps he’s worried that some of his constituents are such fans of the president that they’ll be angry with him if he says he’d impeach, even for murder. But what it looks like is that he favors unlimited presidential power.
The staffer again apologized for the failure to get back to me.
I have one last question. During his summit with Vladimir Putin later this month, the president is planning a meeting between himself and Mr. Putin at which the only other parties will be a pair of translators, one from each side. While we might like to have better relations with Russia, they are not currently an ally the way our partners in NATO or the G-7 are, so there’s good reason for the standard protocol that there be others in the room, such as the Secretary of State or some other foreign-policy aide.
Is Mr. Faso interested in why the president insists on having no other American officials in the room?
I haven’t spoken with him about that. I’ll be happy to pass along your question.
Congress has a say in foreign policy. I would urge the congressman to work with his colleagues to make use of that.
I wished him a good day, and he returned the pleasantry.

If you’re in NY-19, there’s no harm in calling. The staff are very pleasant—even if their boss has rendered them thoroughly unable to answer most questions, even with a month’s practice. And I can’t help but think there’s some value in Faso being reminded that multiple people are watching him on this.

The number for Faso's DC office is (202) 225-5614.

Next call (July 16th)

Earlier calls:

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