Donald Trump on Executive Authority

Quotes by Donald Trump on Unilateral Executive Power


2012 - 2016
2018 - 2020

Donald Trump on Executive Authority Then
Donald Trump on Executive Authority Now

#Trump 11/20/14: "Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution…because he is unable to negotiate." » #Trump 1/9/19: "I have the absolute right to do national emergency…if I can’t make a deal." Click To Tweet

Quotes by Donald Trump on Unilateral Executive Power


2012 - 2016

Donald Trump on Executive Authority Then
“Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?”
“Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”
“[President Obama] is a bad leader and he can’t get people into the room and, you know ‘twist their wrists’ as the expression goes, and get them to make a deal used to do like Lyndon Johnson used to do. Like so many other people used to do. Like — like Ronald Reagan used to do with O’Neill and others. You know you get them into the room and you make a deal. But certainly he has not been able to do that now he has to use executive action and this is a very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court… So we’re looking now at a situation, it should absolutely not pass muster in terms of constitutionality
“He certainly did something that was unconstitutional… I mean, I think certainly he could be impeached and certainly [Republicans] could shut down the government.”
- Nov 2014

Fox News (via CNN), Feb 14, 2019
Trump once called executive action on immigration dangerous, unconstitutional and impeachable

(retrieved 2/23/19)
starts at beginning

“Whether it’s Benghazi, whether it’s IRS, whether it’s any of the many things that you see that are going wrong with our country. The executive orders are an outrage. We have a president that can’t lead. He said, ‘The hell with it. I’m not going to do this anymore. I want to rest and I want to do other things, including going out to play golf.’ This guy has played hundreds of rounds of golf…

“It is not good because he should be doing other things. But he signs executive orders because he’s given up. He can’t convince anybody to do anything, so he’s given up, and he signs on immigration and on other things.”
- April 18, 2015

C-SPAN, April 18, 2015
Republican Leadership Summit, Donald Trump

(retrieved 2/23/19)
quote starts at 0:02

“Our system is broken. We have a president that doesn’t talk to even his own party. You know he doesn’t talk to the democrats. I know the democrats, I know the republicans. He’s not talking to anybody. So then he’ll write an executive order because he can’t get people to do what he wants them to do so he writes out an executive order. We really do have a broken system.”
- June 17, 2015

Fox News (via, June 17, 2015
Hannity FOX News June 17, 2015

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“[President Obama] signs his executive orders all over the place, because he doesn’t want to meet with people and try and convince them to do what the right thing to do is. No, he’s not playing by the rules. No, I do play by the rules. I will play by the rules, too.
- Aug 25, 2015

The Hugh Hewitt Show, Aug 25, 2015

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“There is gridlock in Congress right now, and that’s because there’s no leadership at the top. You have to be able to lead. You have to get people into your office, you have to get people — go to them, any way you want to do it. But you have to be able to lead. There is no leadership at the top. Signing executive orders is not the way our country was supposed to be run.”
- Sept 3, 2015

In the C-SPAN video the quote starts at 9:36

C-SPAN, Sept 3, 2015
Presidential Candidate Donald Trump News Conference

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“The whole concept of executive order — it’s not the way the country is supposed to be run. You’re supposed to go through Congress, and make a deal, and go and talk to people, and get the guys in there and, and you know, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, you’re supposed to all get together, and you’re supposed to make a deal. But [President Obama] couldn’t make a deal because it’s not his thing. He doesn’t even really want to deal with Democrats. He doesn’t want to deal with anybody. So he’s got this new thing with executive orders. But I’m telling you this was a great thing that happened two days ago. Think of it, two days ago the court upheld a decision saying that the executive order that he signed was improper on immigration. It was a big one, it was a big one. That was a great thing.”
- Nov 11, 2015

Washington Post, Feb 15, 2019
Trump’s most hypocritical quotes on unilateral executive action

(retrieved 2/23/19)
starts at 30:41

Barack Obama…doesn’t want to get people together, the old-fashioned way, where you get Congress. You get the Congress, you get the Senate, you get together, you do legislation. He just writes out an executive order. Not supposed to happen that way.”
- Jan 14, 2016

GOP debate in North Charleston, South Carolina

CBS News, Jan 15, 2016

Transcript: Sixth Republican top-tier debate 2016

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“We need to have people get together and work good deals out, good deals out from our standpoint. And I’ll tell you this, it can be done. We don’t want to continue to watch people signing executive orders because that was not what the Constitution and the brilliant designers of this incredible document had in mind. We need people that can make deals and can work, because right now in Washington there’s total, absolute gridlock.”
- March 11, 2016

GOP primary debate in Miami, Floria

New York Times, March 11, 2016
Transcript of the Republican Presidential Debate in Florida

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“So you know, look, you can’t go around just signing our little notices that the president signs all the time, executive orders, he’s done executive order, executive order. It’s almost like, I don’t even know. Does he ever go a deal with Congress anymore?”
- March 2, 2016

Time, March 2, 2016
Read Donald Trump's Super Tuesday Victory Speech

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“I want to use not too many executive orders folks. You know, because executive orders came about more recently. Nobody ever heard of an executive order. Then all of a sudden Obama, because he couldn’t get anybody to agree with him and he start signing them like they’re butter. So I want to do away with executive orders for the most part.”
- March 29, 2016

C-CSPAN, March 29, 2016
Donald Trump Town Hall Meeting in Janesville, Wisconsin

(retrieved 2/23/19)
“You need to be able to negotiate great deals. You know, it’s not all about signing executive orders because this is something that came in — that wasn’t the way our founders thought that this country was going to win. You have to get — now, I’ll make great deals. I’ll make conservative deals. I’m going to make wonderful deals but you have to do it the old-fashioned way like Ronald Reagan did with Tip O’Neill.”
- March 29, 2016
“I want somebody that can deal with Congress, can deal with the Senate, can deal with our Congresspeople, so that we can get something passed. You know, Obama signs his executive orders all day long because he can’t get along with anybody. It’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
- May 18, 2016

Fox News (via Washington Post), May 19, 2016
Sean Hannity and Donald Trump just leveled a pretty big accusation at Bill Clinton

(retrieved 2/23/19)

#DonaldTrump 9/3/15: "Signing executive orders is not the way our country was supposed to be run." » #Trump 2/15/19: "We’re going to be signing today, and registering, national emergency…on the wall, they skimped." Click To Tweet


2018 - 2020

Donald Trump on Executive Authority Now
“[Kim Jong-un is] the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head, don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
June 15, 2018 -

Fox & Friends interview; when asked about this quote later Trump said he was 'kidding.'

Politico, June 15, 2018
Trump: I want 'my people' to 'sit up at attention' like in North Korea

(retrieved 6/22/18)
starts at 17:20

“Yes, I have [considered using emergency powers to build the wall without congressional approval]. And I can do it if I want… We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country. Absolutely… I may do it. But we can call a national emergency and build it very quickly. And it’s another way of doing it. But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we’re giving that a shot.”
Jan 4, 2019 -
“I think we might work a deal. And if we don’t, I may go that route. I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want… My threshold will be if I can’t make a deal with people that are unreasonable.”
Jan 9, 2019 -

White House, Jan 4, 2019
Remarks by President Trump in Signing Ceremony for S. 1862, the 'Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act'

(retrieved 2/23/19)
quote starts at 0:32
“I may [declare a national emergency] at some point. If Chuck & Nancy…don’t agree to the fact that our country is really got problems with crime, with drugs, with a lot of other things that comes through our southern border… If they can’t get that through… It’s a very bad political issue for the Democrats.”
Jan 9, 2019 -

White House, Jan 4, 2019
Remarks by President Trump in Signing Ceremony for S. 1862, the 'Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act'

(retrieved 2/23/19)
quote starts at beginning
“We’re going to be signing today, and registering, national emergency

“In the bill, by the way, [Congress] didn’t even fight us on most of the stuff… The only place they don’t want to give as much money — $1,375,000,000. Sounds like a lot, but it’s not so much… So we have a chance of getting close to $8 billion

“On the wall, they skimped. So I did — I was successful, in that sense, but I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”
Feb 15, 2019 -

“Will I veto [a resolution that would block the national emergency if it passes?]? 100 percent. 100 percent. And I don’t think it survives a veto; we have too many smart people that want border security, so I can’t imagine it could survive a veto. But I will veto it, yes.”
Feb 22, 2019 -
“Article II [of the Constitution] allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire [Robert Mueller].”
June 2019 -
“I have an Article II [of the Constitution], where I have the right to do whatever I want as president. But I don’t even talk about that.”
July 23, 2019 -

“I have the ultimate authority [to reopen the country during the COVID-19 pandemic]…

“I’m going to put it very simply: The President of the United States has the authority to do what the President has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The President of the United States calls the shots…

“When somebody is the President of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be... It’s total. It’s total…

“Make no mistake about it: In the long history of this country, the authority of the President of the United States during national emergencies is unquestionably plenary.”
March 13, 2020 -

“The states can do things if they want. I can override it if I want. But the national stay-at-home [COVID-19 order] — just so you understand, 95 percent of the country is stay-at-home…

“Now, the states that aren’t — and again, constitutionally, from a federalist standpoint, if I thought there was a problem, if I saw a state with a problem, I would absolutely demand it. But they’re doing great…

“I have great authority if I want to use it. I would rather have the states use it… I have absolute authority to use it. But, so far, our relationship with governors and the job they’re doing, I haven’t had to do it. Would I do it if I saw a state that was out of control and they didn’t have the stay-at-home policy? I would do it in a heartbeat…

“I don’t know that I’ve had a bigger decision than that… I mean, think of that decision. Somebody said, ‘It’s totally up to the President.’ I saw it this morning. It’s totally up — and it is. I don’t know that I’ve had a bigger decision…

“The metrics [that I use make that decision are] right here. (Points to head.) That’s my metrics.”
April 10, 2020 -


As of January 21, 2019, Donald Trump has issued an average of 46 executive orders per year, a 31% increase over Barack Obama‘s average of 36 per year, according to U.C. Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project.

Obama’s executive order annual average is the lowest since the 19th century.1The American Presidency Project, Jan 21, 2019
Executive Orders
retrieved 2/23/19

#DonaldTrump 11/11/15: "Executive order — it’s not the way the country is supposed to be run." » #Trump 2/22/19: "We’re going to be signing…national emergency…I didn’t need to do this." Click To Tweet