Newsletter: Of course President Trump is causing a constitutional crisis

President Trump at a rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., on May 8.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, May 11, 2019. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

The question of what exactly might mark a constitutional crisis in the Trump presidency isn’t a new one. Early in his political life (as in, really early), Donald Trump expressed deep disdain for legal restraints on authority, so the fears that we may face a situation that cannot be resolved by any constitutional means have always been understandable.

But the focus on a possible constitutional crisis, I feel, has always been misplaced, or at least just a little too narrow. The moment a dishonest man who proudly stoked bigotry took the oath of office on Jan. 21, 2017, this nation was plunged into crisis; naturally, we’re now at the moment when the constitutional means for dealing with a president like Trump are being tested. Call it a constitutional crisis if you want, but to me it’s merely a permutation of the crisis that began more than two years ago.

To the L.A. Times editorial board, the president’s refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas is dangerous and self-serving:

The administration’s resistance to congressional requests related to the Mueller report comes against the backdrop of a larger contempt by this president for the separation of powers. Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t believe he has to provide information to the House because it is now controlled by Democrats. “We're fighting all the subpoenas,” he said last month. “Look, these aren’t like impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020.”

Obviously Democrats are motivated to some degree by a quest for partisan advantage, as are the congressional Republicans who continue to cover for Trump, and some of their requests seem excessive. But that doesn’t give the president the right to ignore requests for information and testimony to which Congress is entitled. That includes information about whether Trump might have obstructed justice — whether or not Congress seeks that information as part of a formal impeachment inquiry....

Whether rooted in self-protection or hubris, Trump’s defiance of Congress is dangerous. And by resisting meaningful congressional oversight across the board, the president undercuts any argument he might make that Congress should compromise with the White House in seeking particular information. Absolutism begets absolutism.

>> Click here to read more

Hello constitutional crisis: The administration won’t turn over Trump’s tax returns. There’s no question that the House Ways and Means Committee is legally entitled to receive tax returns from the years Trump has been president, but before then? By requesting returns from as far back as 2013 — two years before Trump was even a candidate — House Democrats are wading into fishing-expedition territory, says Jon Healey. L.A. Times

Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry raise their baby to be black? Editorial writer Carla Hall notes that little Archie Windsor, the newest member of the British royal family, is in fact half American and has a black grandmother. Hall writes: “I’m guessing that one of his first questions to his parents will be: Am I black? The answer: Yes, you are.” L.A. Times

The West Coast is defeating Trumpism. Hooray. The renaming of a street in Los Angeles Barack Obama Boulevard was the perfect symbolic capstone to more than two years of success by Oregon, California and Washington in legally fending off Trump’s most destructive policies. New York Times

No, President Trump, China isn’t paying the bill for your tariffs. There’s really no question who will be paying more for products imported from China to cover the cost of tariffs: consumers. The president may be fighting the good fight to stop China’s unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft, but there should be no illusion that waging a trade war will have deep economic consequences for the United States. L.A. Times

Why don’t Democrats nominate a “normal” candidate? Joe Biden has by far the best chance of beating Trump in 2020, and yet many Democrats are agitating for a candidate far more ideologically extreme. Jonah Goldberg cautions the left: The AOCs and Bernies of the progressive movement may draw a lot of retweets and likes on Twitter, but there’s ample evidence that what delivered victory to Democrats in 2018 were candidates that resembled Biden. L.A. Times