August 23, 2019

SO A LOT OF PEOPLE ON FACEBOOK ARE SAYING THAT OF COURSE PRESIDENT TRUMP CAN’T “ORDER” A PRIVATE BUSINESS TO GET OUT OF CHINA. In fact, he almost certainly can do just that, so long as he makes the right declaration. Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, better known in the trade as IEEPA, presidents have a virtual blank check on regulating economic transactions with other countries, so long as they declare a national emergency — which can include one based on economic threats.

I’m not saying this is a good idea, but the people saying that “Trump’s an idiot, presidents can’t do that” are displaying their ignorance. Presidents absolutely can do that. Note that at present Trump is spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt, by tweeting the order but NOT making the declaration that would be required to give it effect. It’s thus a shot across the bow — a metaphor that fits this quite well, really.

See also this earlier post, discussing an Obama action, and U.S. v. Spawr Optical, a disturbing but unexceptional example of judicially endorsed presidential power over international trade.

UPDATE: The folks at Twitchy seem to have missed the boat on this one.

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