Trump used to say signing executive orders was a mark of a weak president. Now he’s governing by them.
President Donald Trump on Saturday took a handful of executive actions to try to circumvent Congress and create coronavirus relief measures.
The executive actions — a mixture of executive orders and presidential memoranda — don’t even do what Trump claims.
However, it’s part of a pattern of Trump governing by executive order — something he once accused former President Barack Obama of doing.
In fact, Obama signed far fewer executive orders than Trump has. Three-and-a-half years into his first term, Trump has signed 177 executive orders, more than the 109 Obama signed in his first four full years as president, according to data from the Federal Register.
Here are 10 times Trump said governing by executive order was the sign of a poor leader who is unable to make deals.
July 10, 2012
The link Trump tweeted is no longer live.
However, four days before that tweet, Obama signed an executive order titled “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,” aimed at ensuring the federal government had “the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions.”
Jan. 9, 2013
“This is how it starts. Obama is now threatening to use an Executive Order for gun control,” Trump tweeted, just before Obama was sworn in for his second term in office. “Welcome to his 2nd term.”
The tweet came just a few weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in which 20 children and six staff members at the Connecticut school were killed.
Obama, noting that Congress had failed to act on any gun control measures, contemplated taking executive action to get the job done.
“The president is going to act. Executive orders, executive action, can be taken,” then-Vice President Joe Biden said. “We haven’t decided what this is yet, but we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members.”
Oct. 20, 2015
In an interview with Fox Business’ Stuart Varney, Trump said signing executive orders was a cop-out.
“Look at Obama. He doesn’t get anything done. You have Democrats that have been there for years and they’ve hardly met him. You have got to get — you’ve got to close the door and get things done without signing your executive orders all the time. That’s the easy way out.”
Nov. 2, 2015
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Trump said of Obama: “He doesn’t work the system. That is why he signs executive orders all the time, because he can’t get his own people to go along.”
Dec. 12, 2015
At a campaign event in South Carolina, Trump said of Obama: “I don’t think he even tries anymore. I think he just signs executive actions.”
Trump then said that presidents are not supposed to govern by executive order, and should stick to the system of checks and balances.
“That’s the way the system is supposed to work. And then all of a sudden, I hear he tried, he can’t do it, and then, boom, and then another one, boom,” Trump said.
Jan. 4, 2016
In January 2016, when Obama took executive action aimed at reducing gun violence, Trump again assailed his use of such action.
“You know, it’s supposed to be negotiated; you’re supposed to cajole, get people in a room; you’re supposed to deal with them, you have Republicans, you have Democrats, you have all these people that get elected to do this stuff, and you’re supposed to get together and pass a law,” Trump said. “[Obama] doesn’t want to do that because it’s too much work. So he doesn’t want to work too hard. He wants to go back and play golf.”
Of course, when Trump took executive action on coronavirus aid over the weekend, he was at his private golf club in New Jersey.
Jan. 20, 2016
Trump told Fox news of Obama:
“The problem with Washington, they don’t make deals. It’s all gridlock. And then you have a president that signs executive orders because he can’t get anything done. I’ll get everybody together.”
Jan. 26, 2016
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when he was running for the GOP nomination for president, Trump said: “We have a president that can’t get anything done so he just keeps signing executive orders all over the place.”
Feb. 19, 2016
“Obama goes around signing executive orders,” Trump said at a Republican town hall during the 2016 GOP primary. “He can’t even get along with the Democrats. He goes around signing all these executive orders. It’s a basic disaster. You can’t do it.”
March 29, 2016
At a campaign town hall in Wisconsin, Trump said he would make little use of executive orders if elected.
“I want to not use too many executive orders, folks,” Trump said. “Executive orders sort of came about more recently. Nobody ever heard of an executive order. Then all of a sudden Obama, because he couldn’t get anybody to agree with him, he starts signing them like they’re butter. So I want to do away with executive orders for the most part.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.