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Trump White House wings it with dubious executive actions

"A government by edict is not a sustainable idea," one scholar noted. That maxim is being tested.
Image: Trump, flanked by Kushner, Pence and Porter, welcomes reporters into the Oval Office for him to sign his first executive orders at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (standing, L-R), Vice President Mike Pence and Staff Secretary Rob Porter welcomes...
Donald Trump once asked incredulously why President Obama "constantly" issued executive orders "that are major power grabs of authority." Oddly enough, the new president doesn't seem to have those concerns anymore.Trump has wasted little time, issuing a series of executive orders, directives, and actions, despite months of rhetoric -- from the president and his congressional allies -- about the tyrannical dangers of the White House making policy without Congress.But putting hypocrisy aside, Politico reports today that the situation is even worse than it appears, because the West Wing has made "little effort to consult with" the federal agencies affected by Trump's latest actions, "stoking fears the White House is creating the appearance of real momentum with flawed orders that might be unworkable, unenforceable or even illegal."

The White House didn't ask State Department experts to review Trump's memorandum on the Keystone XL pipeline, even though the company that wants to build the pipeline is suing the U.S. for $15 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo were "blindsided" by a draft order that would require agencies to reconsider using interrogation techniques that are currently banned as torture, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking.

The report added that members of Congress weren't consulted or notified, agency experts didn't review the actions before their announcement, and even White House staffers don't know what's in the new orders, which were reportedly written by Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the authors of Trump's controversial inaugural address. (As a rule, we wouldn't expect to see a White House in which political writers are responsible for crafting executive orders. They're very different kinds of products.)

The only other administration that began with such swift executive actions was Ronald Reagan's, said David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown University and a former official at the Federal Trade Commission. Those directives were more heavily vetted."If you don't run these kinds of initiatives through the affected agencies, you're going to get something wrong," Vladeck said. "A government by edict is not a sustainable idea."

That maxim is being tested.Politico added that Trump is relying on his "improvisational style." Or put another way, an amateur president, surrounded by aides with no governing experience whatsoever, is winging it, taking executive actions without really thinking things through.Those who take governing and public policy seriously have reason to be alarmed.