WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump met with UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo at the White House on Thursday, the Review-Journal has learned — the first face-to-face meeting between the president and his new legal guru and author of a piece that argues a recent Supreme Court ruling can help Trump enact new policies without congressional action.
“He was upbeat and energetic,” Yoo told the Review-Journal. Yoo said he would not reveal the content of their conversation, but did offer that the man who greeted him was not “Nixonian in the bunker and paranoid and dark. I didn’t see that.”
Yoo, one of the attorneys who authored a memo justifying the use of enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding in 2002 when he served under President George W. Bush, said he met with the president in the Oval Office for about an hour.
The Review-Journal spoke with Yoo on Saturday, hours after Trump posted a favorable tweet about Yoo’s new book, “Defender in Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power.”
In the book, Yoo notes that he did not vote for Trump in the 2016 primary or general election as he worried that the man he saw campaigning was “not prepared for the heavy responsibilities of the presidency” and that he “would test, evade or even violate the Constitution.”
“Boy, was I wrong,” Yoo wrote. “Trump campaigns like a populist but governs like a constitutional conservative.”
In June, Yoo wrote a piece for the National Review that argued a Supreme Court ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts that overrode Trump’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “makes it easy for presidents to violate the law, but reversing such violations difficult.” It was a piece that apparently made the rounds among White House lawyers.
According to Yoo, White House counsel Pat Cipollone also attended the Oval Office meeting.
During an interview that aired on July 25, Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he planned to write his own immigration plan, which would include DACA, and a health care plan within weeks.
“The Supreme Court gave the president of the United States powers that nobody thought the president had, by approving, by doing what they did — their decision on DACA. And DACA’s going to be taken care of also,” Trump said. “But we’re getting rid of it because we’re going to replace it with something much better.”
Since then Trump has been dangling the idea of multiple executive orders he could issue with the understanding that, as per the Roberts decision, they could not be overturned without following the Administrative Procedure Act.
Yoo said that he talked to Trump on the phone after the president read his article. During that call, Trump “was really on top of things” and was aware of how various justices voted on recent cases.
Thursday morning Yoo arrived at the White House through an entrance not readily visible to White House press corps members who haunt the North Lawn driveway. But he said, he walked out the front door, past reporters who did not recognize him. “I had my mask on,” Yoo laughed.
A great new book, “Defender in Chief: Donald Trump's Fight for Presidential Power”, written by celebrated constitutional scholar, John Yoo, is now available. Thanks so much John – greatly appreciate your support and words of wisdom! pic.twitter.com/QAdxcK33Su
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2020