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Capitol riot hearings raise questions of presidential power

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By GARY FIELDS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee’s investigation of the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and the events leading up to the U.S. Capitol insurrection is raising questions about former President Donald Trump’s role and whether he committed crimes.

The various schemes and talking points that witnesses have revealed also highlight what a president has the authority to do.

Government and legal experts say the bigger question is: Can further limits be put on presidential authority to make sure there are no repeats of 2020 in future administrations?

WHAT LAWS FORM THE BASIS FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL POWERS IN QUESTION?

There are two primary ones: the Insurrection Act, first enacted in 1792, and the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

The Insurrection Act is a long-standing presidential power that gives the president wide latitude to use military forces to stop a rebellion or domestic violence. Military forces are normally barred by the Posse Comit­atus Act from joining in civilian law enforce­ment actions.

Elizabeth Goitein, senior director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the insurrection “in my opinion” could have been the catalyst for the president to invoke the act and bring in the military to escort congressional lawmakers out of the proceedings for their safety. “That doesn’t mean Donald Trump would have been the president, but it would have thrown a wrench in the works,” she said.

Read more.

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