Trump threatens to take the extraordinary step of adjourning Congress after going on a wild rant against Voice of America

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Trump threatens to take the extraordinary step of adjourning Congress after going on a wild rant against Voice of America

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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  • President Donald Trump threatened to take the extraordinary step of forcing Congress to adjourn because the Senate hasn't confirmed Michael Pack, his nominee for the US agency that oversees Voice of America and other taxpayer-funded outlets.
  • The White House has railed against VoA in recent days, falsely accusing the 75-year-old broadcaster of spreading Chinese propaganda.
  • "If you hear what's coming out of the Voice of America, it's disgusting," Trump said on Wednesday. "The things they say are disgusting to our country."
  • He then said that he would "exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress" and make recess appointments if the Senate doesn't confirm Pack to his position.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump threatened on Wednesday to take the extraordinary step of forcing Congress to adjourn because the Senate has not yet confirmed his nominee for a US agency that oversees Voice of America and other taxpayer-funded media outlets.

The White House has railed against VoA in recent days, falsely accusing the 75-year-old broadcaster of spreading Chinese propaganda.

"American taxpayers - paying for China's very own propaganda, via the US Government funded Voice of America! DISGRACE!!" the White House social media director, Dan Scavino, wrote on Twitter while sharing a VoA post about a light show in China last week.

The light show was performed to celebrate the reopening Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak first began. It was on lockdown for months until last week.

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"If you hear what's coming out of the Voice of America, it's disgusting," Trump said. "The things they say are disgusting to our country."

He then mentioned Michael Pack, a documentary filmmaker the president nominated to oversee the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees VoA.

"Michael Pack would get in, he'd do a great job, but he's been waiting now for two years," Trump said. "Can't get him approved. The senators left Washington until at least May 4."

"The Constitution provides a mechanism for the president to fill positions in such circumstances," Trump added, referring to the Recess Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

"The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees, or it should formally adjourn so that I can make recess appointments," Trump said. "We have a tremendous number of people that have to come into government, and now more so than ever before because of the virus and the problem. We have to do it. They've made it very difficult to run government."

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He then went on a tirade against Democratic lawmakers, who control the House of Representatives. After accusing them of putting up "roadblocks" via the Russia investigation and the impeachment inquiry, the president called on the lower chamber to agree to adjourn.

"If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress," Trump said. "The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam what they do. It's a scam and everybody knows it."

A "pro forma" session is a period of time, typically short in duration, when the House or Senate is technically in session but when no votes are cast and formal business is not conducted. "Pro forma" is Latin for "in form only."

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution outlines the president's power to convene or adjourn Congress in certain circumstances.

"[H]e may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper," the Constitution says.

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Article I, Section 5 also says: "Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days."

The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2014 that the president cannot use his or her authority under the Recess Appointment Clause of the Constitution to fill appointments unless the Senate is in recess and unable to conduct official business.

"Perhaps it's never been done before," Trump said on Wednesday. "Nobody's even sure if it has, but we're going to do it. We need these people here."

He added: "When you talk about partisanship, and it's never ever happened before. You can look at every administration in the history of this country. Nobody has ever had hundreds of people not approved after three years."

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