“Does the President still stand by what he said last year when he said, ‘I am not the emperor of the United States; my job is to execute laws that are passed.’ Is that still operative?” asked Jonathan Karl, reporter for ABC, during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“Absolutely,” replied White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
“Not a king either?” asked Karl, to audience chuckles.
“That’s right,” said Earnest flatly.
“Because [Obama] was asked very specifically about the idea of expanding the deferred action executive order for the DREAMers to their parents. And he said September 17th last year on Telemundo, very clearly: ‘If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend so that is not an option. Is that still off the table?" asked Karl
Karl: “When the President said specifically that expanding the DACA executive order is not an option because it would be ignoring the law. Does he still believe that?”
“Well Jon, I don’t want to get ahead of – what – any sort of announcements that the President might make, before the end of the year, about executive actions that he may take to fix our broken immigration system. Since [the Telemundo] interview aired, the President did direct the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a review of the law to determine what, if any, authority he could use to try to fix some of the problems that House Republicans have refused to address. SO this is something that has been under consideration for a long time…”
“So just to be clear, you’re saying this is no longer operative because we’ve had a review,” Karl jumped in. “So when the President said that expanding DACA to apply to parents of DREAMers would be ‘broadening and essentially ignoring the law in a way that would be difficult to defend legally, that it’s not an option’ – that statement is no longer operative?”
Earnest: “Well what I’m saying is we’ll have an opportunity to evaluate the options that the President has chosen to take after he’s announced that…”
Karl: “But I’m not asking about the options, I’m just saying: Does the President still stand by what he said in that interview in September last year?”
“Well, Jon, obviously there are some things that have changed,” Earnest fumbled.
“So no,” said Karl.
“Well it’s not…” Earnest struggled, and then began his earlier statement again. “Obviously there are some things that have changed. We have been in a situation where the President has ordered a broader, in-depth review of the existing law to determine what sort of executive authority does rest with the presidency to determine what sort of steps he could take,” Earnest offered.
Looking for an “in-depth review of the existing law” to determine the President’s authority? It’s called the separation of powers, and the U.S. Constitution is the document you’re looking for.