White House policy adviser Stephen Miller's comments Sunday about President Donald Trump's authority show serious issues that could lead to several problems for the administration, including making Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch's conformation more difficult, Sen. Chris Coons said Monday.
"The idea that a senior adviser to the president would go on camera and say the president's authority will not be questioned shows both a striking lack of understanding of the structure of our government and a complete lack of respect for judicial independence," the Delaware Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.
Further, he said, if Trump doesn't walk back Miller's comments, "I think he will have more and more problems on a bipartisan basis," Coons said.
On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Miller sparred with Stephanopoulos, telling him that the "judiciary is not supreme," and that the judges at both the 9th Circuit and in Seattle took "power for themselves that belong squarely" with the president.
Further, Miller said, "the end result of this, though, is that our opponent, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned. And the bottom line is the president's powers in this area represent the apex of executive authority."
Such talk is leading to concern from Republicans in the Senate, Coons said Monday.
"Privately, I know many are concerned," said Coons. "Absolutely. But the challenge isn't talk. It's actions."
Coons also discussed North Korea's missile test and Trump's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with the president's telephone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping
"As a candidate, the president, now President Trump said a lot of alarming things about pushing back our nuclear umbrella from Japan to South Korea about perhaps moving away from the One China policy," said Coons.
"The last few days, they have seen him reverse those positions in the face of a North Korean nuclear launch that could threaten American bases in Japan and Guam. He stood clearly shoulder-to-shoulder with our Japanese allies.
"I am hopeful he'll take stronger steps to defend them. He is now realizing we need China's help in pushing back on North Korea's aggressive actions."
Coons said, though, that he is concerned about turmoil with national security adviser Mike Flynn.
"Turmoil is not a word I like to hear describing the National Security Council," said Coons. "I was very troubled that Steve Bannon was elevated and earlier that the chairman of the joint chiefs was apparently sidelined.
"So I'm concerned, both about Gen. Flynn's uneven relationship with the truth, the very embarrassing situation he put the vice president in."
If Trump is to be a stronger voice in international relations, he needs to have both a national security adviser he can trust and a National Security Council that is functional, said Coons.
"He has got a strong secretary of Defense, a promising secretary of State," said Coons. "But if his national security adviser is untrustworthy and untruthful and his National Security Council staff is in turmoil that's a big deal for us in terms of international relations."
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