These are not “whataboutism” points. I am not saying Trump’s emergency proclamation is just like past ones—it is not. I have not yet done a serious enough legal analysis to determine whether what Trump has done is lawful or unlawful. Nor have I done adequate analysis to determine whether Trump’s emergency proclamation combines precedents in ways that are more threatening to the constitutional order than the precedents themselves, though I tentatively do not believe it does. Nor am I saying Trump’s action will or should be upheld by courts
I simply wish to put Trump’s actions in context by emphasizing these points: (1) Congress has delegated enormous power to the president and given him enormous effective discretion about how to spend funds; (2) presidents have for many, many decades viewed these delegations expansively, especially in contexts touching on foreign relations, and in those contexts courts almost always agree; (3) the president’s statutory emergency powers are not materially different from other delegated powers that presidents have construed broadly and that courts have almost always upheld; (4) finding imaginative ways to act to achieve important public policies on which a president was elected, in the face of a recalcitrant Congress, is what modern presidents do, often to celebratory applause.