In a meandering gaggle with reporters prior to Trump’s meeting with leaders from the Baltic states, Trump – seemingly out of nowhere – said that he will be putting U.S. troops on the border with Mexico for the first time. The idea is obviously in its infancy.
We know the idea to be new because any sort of consultation with his attorneys would surely have yielded mention of the Posse Comitatus Act which prohibits the United States military from engaging in civil law enforcement on U.S. soil. While the distinction may prove too subtle for some Trump supporters (and Trump), there is a difference between the United States’ military defense forces meeting tanks about to cross from Mexico and the United State military defense forces meetings vans and swimmers. The military stands ready to defend the U.S. from military attacks, everything else is somebody else’s issue and jurisdiction.
Thus, it was that the rat running through Trump’s blunt mind, bumbled upon what is both surely an awful idea, and one said to make his supporters swoon. One can just picture the thought process:
They want a wall, but I couldn’t get the money for a wall. I wish I could just order the money to pay for a wall …she has a big chest …I need something I can just order, who can I just order around …Wait! The military! My generals! I’ll order them to form a wall of bombs and SEAL TEAM 6! My supporters will love it when I order the latest anti-personnel munitions and stealth fighters to patrol the border! I’m brilliant!
The pronouncement is only hours old, and knowing the Trump White House, it may only have a couple more hours to live. But, while it is an idea floating about, we can also safely note that another department that Trump did not consult (along with the Justice Department) would be the Defense Department. Because the Defense Department does happen to have attorneys that it frequently consults, the DoD is likely well-aware of the Posse Comitatus Act, and thus has trained for over one hundred years, without once thinking it needed to train for a mission whereby it guarded the United States border. We can be reasonably certain that the Defense Department will “go ballistic” (I know, sorry) upon hearing that their Commander-in-Chief is even considering issuing an order that is A) illegal, B) stupid, and C) beyond anything they have contemplated.
In other words, it is just another day at the Trump White House.