Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Tell: Why some Jews are worried about Trump’s last months in power


(JTA) — Just when you think the Trump era is over, it keeps rising out of the lake and coming back.

I wrote today about how Donald Trump is planning perhaps the most consequential exit from the political stage ever.

His failure so far to even acknowledge Joe Biden as the president-elect means Biden is missing out on critical national security briefings which would better prepare him for any crisis facing the next president. Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and David Friedman, the ambassador to Israel, are meanwhile setting precedents by effectively recognizing West Bank settlements as part of Israel.

I learned a new term: The “sticky” executive action. A president’s orders or rules, made separately from Congress, are theoretically undoable by her successor; but there are ways to make them “sticky” or hard to reverse. Melanie Nezer, a vice president at HIAS, the lead Jewish immigration advocacy group, tells me it may take months or years to reverse the strictures on immigration put in place by Trump’s advisor, Stephen Miller.

Mark Dubowitz, the CEO at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains how imposing sanctions on Iran that are designed to exact a political price for retracting ensures they will stick.

One area I didn’t include is not an executive action: Naming new federal judges requires the assent of a Senate, which is also entering a lame-duck period, and its majority in the next Congress is not yet resolved. An official in a Jewish social justice group tells me that Trump is expected to name — and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell push through — as many as 60 federal judges before the end of his term.

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