In 2nd day of anti-Trump protests, civil rights a top concern

Demonstrators took to the streets across the country for a second day on Thursday to protest Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, voicing fears that the real estate mogul’s political triumph would deal a blow to civil rights.

On the East Coast, there were protests in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, while on the West Coast protesters converged on Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, California. And in Denver, several thousand people rallied in one of the largest of Thursday’s events.

Thursday’s gatherings were generally smaller in scale and less intense than Wednesday’s, while teenagers and young adults again dominated the racially mixed crowds.

Police erected special security barricades around two Trump marquee properties that have become focal points of the protests – the president-elect’s newly opened Pennsylvania Avenue hotel in Washington and the high-rise Trump Tower where he lives in Manhattan.

In the nation’s capital, about 100 protesters marched from the White House, where Trump had his first transition meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday, to the Trump International Hotel blocks away.

At least 200 people rallied there after dark, many of them chanting “No hate! No fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” and carrying signs with such slogans as “Impeach Trump” and “Not my president.” “I can’t support someone who supports so much bigotry and hatred. It’s heart-breaking,” said Joe Daniels, 25, of suburban Alexandria, Virginia.

In Los Angeles, a small band of protesters marched onto a freeway near downtown, briefly blocking traffic until police cleared them away. Minneapolis police reported a similar act of civil disobedience on Interstate 94.

Trump’s critics have expressed concern that his often-inflammatory campaign rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims, women and others – combined with support he has drawn from the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists – could spark a wave of intolerance against various minorities.

Anti-Trump rallies were held in more than a dozen major U.S. cities on Wednesday, with thousands turning out at the biggest gatherings – in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland, California. In Oakland, unruly protesters smashed windows, set fires and clashed with riot police.

A Trump campaign representative did not respond to requests for comment on the protests. Taking a far more conciliatory tone in his acceptance speech early Wednesday than he had at many of his campaign events, Trump vowed to be a president for all Americans.

Earlier this month, his campaign rejected a Klan newspaper endorsement, saying Trump “denounces hate in any form.” Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and a high-profile Trump supporter, called the demonstrators “a bunch of spoiled cry-babies,” in an interview with Fox News.

‘Get it out of their systems’

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer urged the protesters to give Trump a chance once he is sworn into office in January.

“I hope that people get it out of their systems … but then they give this man that was just elected very historically and his new vice president an opportunity to govern,” Spicer said in an interview on MSNBC. In San Francisco, more than 1,000 high school students walked out of classes Thursday morning and marched through the city’s financial district carrying rainbow flags representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, Mexican flags and signs decrying Trump.

Several hundred students at Texas State University in San Marcos took to the campus to protest Trump’s election.

Civil rights groups and police reported an uptick in attacks on members of minority groups, in some cases carried out by people claiming to support Trump. There were also reports of Trump opponents lashing out violently against people carrying signs indicating support for Trump.

Organizers used social media to plan many of the protests. A Facebook group named “#NotMyPresident,” formed by college and high school students, called for an anti-Trump rally on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. More anti-Trump demonstrations were planned for the weekend.

Analysis: Trump could easily erase much of Obama’s foreign policy legacy

US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy rests in part on a foundation of unilateral actions that his successor Donald Trump could reverse with the stroke of a pen.

Due to take office on Jan. 20, Trump, the winner in Tuesday’s election, campaigned at times to dismantle Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and to reimpose sanctions Obama eased on Cuba. Trump also disagreed with foreign policy decisions that included the way Obama has deployed troops abroad to combat Islamist militant groups.

In his most notable foreign policy achievements, Obama, a Democrat, used executive authorities that offered a convenient legal path around a Republican-controlled Congress committed to blocking his agenda.

The U.S. Constitution gives a president broad executive powers to enact foreign policy. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have sought to exercise those powers by issuing executive orders, presidential memoranda and what are called findings.

“He (Obama) relied on executive authority to build a foreign policy legacy,” said Thomas Wright, director of the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution.

“That is all vulnerable to countervailing executive authority by a Trump administration,” Wright said. Obama had hoped to pass his legacy on to Democrat Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state, but she lost the presidential election to Trump, a Republican businessman who has never held public office or served in the military.

Trump plans unclear

Often contradicting himself during the campaign, Trump made it difficult to know for sure what policies he would pursue. Major constraints include budget caps, laws he cannot reverse without Congress, and the pressure that will emerge to replace policies he chooses to abandon.

Trump said in an October speech that he would “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama” on his first day in office, without saying who would determine their constitutionality.

A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday on his latest plans.

Executive orders enacted and rescinded

Perhaps nowhere has Obama faced more congressional opposition than in his pursuit of the 2015 deal with Iran, which Republicans and some Democrats said put too few restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in return for too much sanctions relief. Trump has vowed to dismantle it, although his statements on the deal have been contradictory. A president may tighten and relax economic sanctions by executive order. “Anything enacted by executive order can be rescinded by executive order,” said Zachary Goldman, a former U.S. Treasury official now at New York University.

Obama drew enough support from Democrats to block a Republican-led resolution rejecting the Iran deal, achieving a political victory but falling short of a consensus.

Trump will have the added advantage of working with a U.S. Senate and a House of Representatives controlled by fellow Republicans.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday he hoped Trump would “see how much he can undo the unilateral actions the president took all by himself, which would not require us.”

Cuba, drones

Breaking with longstanding U.S. policy on another issue, Obama restored diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2015. But facing opposition in Congress to lifting a broad economic embargo, especially from Republicans, he used executive actions to ease some U.S. sanctions.

Obama capped his Cuba efforts last month with a sweeping “presidential policy directive,” which also is reversible and sets forth mandates for government engagement, people-to-people exchanges, and greater U.S. business ties.

Trump has taken contradictory positions on whether he supports the embargo or not.

Obama’s aides said the easing of restrictions was aimed at securing enough benefits for U.S. businesses and travelers that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any Republican president to reverse the opening to Cuba.

Trump could roll back Obama’s efforts to create greater transparency about drone strikes. Obama issued an executive order in July requiring annual disclosures about such strikes.

Military power

As commander-in-chief, Trump will wield the power to mobilize the U.S. military on short notice and without first seeking approval from Congress.

Obama deployed U.S. troops to Iraq, Syria and Libya to help fight the Islamic State militant group by relying on the authority Congress granted President George W. Bush to battle al Qaeda. That same authority would allow Trump to ramp up U.S. deployments in fights against Islamist militants if he chose to do so.

One former U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the president can approve covert action and needs only to brief relevant leaders in Congress once the operation is under way. Trump’s powers, however, are limited.

He pledged to expand the Army, grow the Marine Corps, boost the Navy from 276 to 350 ships and submarines, and raise the number of Air Force tactical aircraft from 1,100 to 1,200. For starters, that would require that Congress scrap government spending caps under the Budget Control Act.

Trump’s support for water-boarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning, also would meet opposition. Congress last year passed legislation barring the use of waterboarding and other “extreme interrogation techniques” widely considered torture. Obama signed the measure into law last November.

‘Panamagate should be resolved politically’

The Supreme Court (SC) is going to resume hearing the Panamagate case on Nov 15. According to Barrister Farogh Nasim, the recently-sidelined vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the apex court is fully empowered to probe the allegations thrown up by the Panama Papers.

582516c843166However, there is another view that contends the SC lacks jurisdiction to take up such matters. Dawn spoke to Kamran Murtaza, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and newly appointed PBC spokesperson. Mr Murtaza suggested that instead of the judiciary, parliament should investigate the allegations through a high-level committee.

Q: How do you view the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) and others seeking an investigation against the prime minister and his children?

A: I believe in accountability, and that it should begin from the top. However, I have certain reservations over the admissibility of the petitions currently being heard by the apex court.

The SC entertains two types of petitions; appeals against high court verdicts, and petitions filed under Article 184/3 of the Constitution [which deals with questions of public importance with reference to the enforcement of fundamental rights]. However, there are some restrictions; under the article, the apex court can only take up matters related to fundamental rights. In my view, Panamagate is not a matter of fundamental rights, but a political issue and therefore needs to resolved politically.

Q: Both the PTI as well as the PML-N appear to be willing to accept the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in the matter. In such circumstances, how can one object to the proceedings before the apex court?

A: We should also keep in mind the context in which the Supreme Court entertained the petitions. At the time, one party was afraid of an imminent sit-in, while the other one was seeking a dignified way out – to call off the protest – as they had not expected such harsh treatment of their political workers by the law enforcement agencies.

Subsequently, both the parties accepted the apex court as an arbitrator in the matter. If two persons go to a civil judge and ask him to pass a verdict in criminal matter, would the consent of both parties change the jurisdiction of the civil judge? The answer is no. In case the Supreme Court admitted such political petitions, it would set a precedent for future litigants. How can the apex court refuse future petitions if it is accepting this one now?

Q: Last year, a commission headed by the then-chief justice looked into the allegations of rigging in the 2013 elections. Why can a similar commission of the apex court not take up the Panamagate case?

A: I was also opposed the constitution of the inquiry commission to probe alleged rigging. In my view, such matters must be heard by elections tribunal under Article 225 of the Constitution and the apex court can hear appeals against the orders of the tribunals. The legal community didn’t praise the Supreme Court for probing these allegations; ever former chief justice Nasirul Mulk, who is a thorough gentleman, was criticised. I think political parties would criticise the Supreme Court even after the conclusion of Panamagate case, therefore, the court should get rid of the matter as soon as possible.

Q: Institutions such as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) seem reluctant to probe the Panamagate affair, so how will the Supreme Court investigate the allegations?

A: It will be very difficult for the apex court to investigate the allegations through ‘unwilling’ investigation agencies. This would create embarrassment for the worthy judges, as well as bringing the institution into disrepute. When investigation agencies and other relevant organisations are not ready or lack jurisdiction to probe the allegations, how can the Supreme Court ask them to investigate something that existing laws do not permit them to.

Q: Should the allegations left un-attended, or is there any way forward for a transparent probe?

A: Since this is a politically motivated case, it needs to be resolved politically. Parliament can form a high-level committee consisting of eminent parliamentarians from both houses – Senate and the National Assembly – from all major political parties. The committee can compel investigation agencies to conduct a transparent probe. In case the committee fails, then the politicians can be blamed.

But if the Supreme Court cannot deliver, this sacred institution would face a lot of unnecessary criticism.