Produced by Mark Seman & Anthony Kane
Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter called President Trump “lazy and incompetent” and a “lunatic” and warned that he could face a Republican primary challenger from the right if he doesn’t fulfill his promise to build a wall across the Mexican border.
“We put this lunatic in the White House for one reason,” said Coulter in an interview on the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery.”
Coulter even suggested a possible “terrific” primary challenger to the president — Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who recently charged that Democratic leaders in Congress have “American blood” on their hands for refusing to fund the wall.
Brooks’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Coulter’s comments are her latest attempt to pressure the president to stand by his promise to build the border wall, a campaign she has conducted largely on Twitter, where she called Trump a “wimp” for caving in to Democrats by allowing the government to reopen after a five-week shutdown. Coulter, with 2.14 million Twitter followers (compared to Trump’s 57.9 million) appears to wield an outsized influence over the White House, and she wasn’t shy in discussing it in her interview with Yahoo News’ Dan Klaidman and Michael Isikoff.
“That’s none of your beeswax,” she said, when asked if she is still talking to the president despite their seemingly frayed relationship.
In an interview last week, Trump remarked of Coulter, “I hear she’s become very hostile. Maybe I didn’t return her phone call or something.” Databases of Trump’s tweets indicate he hasn’t mentioned Coulter since August 2016, when he retweeted her praise of his campaign speech on immigration as “the most magnificent speech ever given.”
Asked about reports that Trump had “unfollowed” her on Twitter after one of her recent attacks, Coulter laughed and insisted: “He’s still reading me. I can tell. … Well, somebody’s reading me. They’re all reading me over there.”
As if to underscore the point, Coulter repeatedly pressed an argument that Trump himself seemed to be making in a New York Times interview the same day: that the president doesn’t need a congressional appropriation to build the wall, nor does he need to declare a national emergency.
Instead, Coulter claimed, he can simply use his inherent authority as commander in chief to direct that the wall be built in order to “protect” United States citizens and “defend” the country from illegal immigrants.
“He doesn’t need to declare an emergency” to build the wall, Coulter said, claiming the president can simply order the Department of Defense and Homeland Security to begin construction.
“I think Trump is gonna do that,” Coulter said. “I think he’s finally going to pull that pocket Constitution out of his lapel pocket and [say], ‘Oh my gosh, I’m the president. This is great.’”
Coulter did not have an answer when challenged to name a constitutional scholar who would support such an extreme view of unilateral executive power. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe ridiculed the idea in a Twitter response to Coulter’s comments Friday morning.
“No! Inherent presidential power as C-in-Chief dsn’t give Trump the power of the purse. We fought a revolution to end such power,” he wrote.
No! Inherent presidential power as C-in-Chief dsn’t give Trump the power of the purse. We fought a revolution to end such royal power. And SCOTUS settled the issue in the Steel Seizure decision in 1952: Not even a war entitles POTUS to spend money w/out Congress’ authorization. https://t.co/NlN09R8wW0
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 1, 2019
But Trump seemed to be entertaining the idea in his interview with the New York Times the same day. Saying that his efforts to negotiate with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats were “a waste of money and time and energy,” the president insisted he will simply proceed with his plans for a wall anyway.
“I’ll continue to build the wall and we’ll get the wall finished,” Trump said. “Now whether or not I declare a national emergency — that you’ll see.”
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