Donald Trump Just Broke The Law And No One Is Doing Anything About It

Yes, really. Yes, today.

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That headline could almost describe the last few years in this country, honestly, and we don’t blame you if you balked a little at the seeming hyperbole in a title like that. Today, however, it’s an accurate description of the President’s agenda, schedule, and completed activities for the day.

The thing is, whether Donald Trump likes it or not, there are actual entries in the “job description” for President of the United States. Stuff that he’s not just supposed to do, but because it’s such an important job, things he’s required by law to do. And when he doesn’t do those things, he is in violation of the law.

Usually, that means procedural junk that has to do with signing things, or it means essentially meaningless stuff like flag codes or military salutes or some nonsense.


Today, Trump is in violation of a law that’s been on the books for nearly three decades that requires him to submit a budget request to Congress by the first Monday in February. Title 31, Subtitle II, Chapter 11, Section 1105(a) of the US Code says:

On or after the first Monday in January but not later than the first Monday in February of each year, the President shall submit a budget of the United States Government for the following fiscal year.”

What does the President’s budget request do? Among other things, it provides “information on activities and functions of the Government … information on costs and achievements of Government programs … a reconciliation of the summary information on expenditures with proposed appropriations … estimated expenditures and proposed appropriations the President decides are necessary to support the Government in the fiscal year for which the budget is submitted and the 4 fiscal years after that year.”

In other words, a bunch of stuff that Donald Trump neither understands nor even pretends to care about.

In fact, this article isn’t so much to point out that Trump deserves to go to prison for breaking this relatively minor law — for which there actually is no penalty, after all — but rather to serve as a reminder that none of this is normal. Shutting down the government every January (yes, Trump shut it down last year as well, and there’s no reason to suspect he won’t next year) as a way to aggressively “negotiate” for the things you want the government to spend money on is not normal.

Demanding that the government spend money on something that hasn’t even been fully planned is not normal.

Threatening to declare a national emergency in order to spend money in the way you think it should be spent — rather than the way America’s elected officials have agreed it will be spent — is not normal.

We should not be allowing any of this to be normalized as though the habits of Donald Trump are just the way things are now. So let’s start with holding Trump to the letter of the law, not just with the Mueller investigation or the Emoluments Clause or his use of the office to raise money that goes to his own businesses. Let’s start with the simple ones, like budget requests.

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