cover image Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power

Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power

John Yoo. All Points, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-26957-7

Yoo (coauthor, Striking Power), a UC Berkeley law professor and former justice department official under George W. Bush, casts Donald Trump as a vigorous defender of “the constitutional order” in this sober-minded yet myopic account. Walking back his own previous warnings that the Trump administration represented “executive power run amok,” Yoo argues that Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, successful pushback against the special counsel inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and impeachment over the Ukraine affair, and “conservative makeover of the federal courts,” are all in line with the Framers’ vision of an “energetic unitary executive” with the authority to act quickly and decisively in matters of national interest while resisting legislative and judicial branch overreach. Yoo critiques Trump’s antiimmigration and protectionist trade policies, yet defends his legal right to enact them, and accuses Democratic lawmakers of posing the graver threat to the Constitution by calling for universal health care, wealth taxes, the elimination of the Electoral College, and the granting of “vast new powers” to “unaccountable” government agencies. Yoo cherry-picks historical evidence to support his arguments, treats the question of Trump’s actual motives as unimportant, and presents debatable claims, including that the post–Great Recession economy had recovered “listlessly” before Trump took office, as fact. This one-sided defense of the Trump presidency won’t change minds. (July)