Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump’s War on the World’s Most Powerful Office

Farrar. Jan. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780374175368. $28. POL SCI
Hennessey (executive editor, Lawfare Blog, lawfareblog.com) and Wittes (editor in chief, Lawfare Blog; The Future of Violence) assess the Trump presidency as it compares with previous administrations and relates to the writings of founding fathers, such as Alexander Hamilton. Their narrative reveals that although many of Trump’s actions are unethical and flaunt well-established norms and precedents, they are not unconstitutional. According to the authors, Trump has created an “expressive presidency,” in which his personality cannot be separated from his policies. Endless Twitter assaults circumvent his own executive branch to appeal directly to his base, and no staff members are safe from his uneven temperament, as demonstrated by the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey. The authors highlight the investigation of the president’s use of pardons and security clearances, lesser but monarchical-like powers, that cannot be contested.
VERDICT This book was completed before the impeachment probe in October 2019 so parts feel outdated. However, serious political readers and presidential studies scholars will derive much from this cogent appraisal.

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