President Donald Trump’s theory of executive power starts and ends with his “absolute rights.”
Trump invoked that catchphrase earlier this month, when, in apparent response to his angry tweets, the Justice Department undercut its own prosecutors and reduced their recommended prison sentence for Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign adviser. Trump denied having asked the Justice Department to step in—but not without insisting that he had the “absolute right to do it” if he so chose.
That claim is a favorite Trump refrain, and like a brake warning light, it tends to signal that the car is no longer safely in contact with the legal road. In May 2017, after The New York Times reported that Trump had spilled highly classified information to Russian government officials, he tweeted that he had “the absolute right to do so.