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With This Tweet, Trump Just Got Himself Into a Legal Quagmire

Donald Trump’s propensity to pander to the religious right is causing more legal troubles for his administration. On Friday, the erratic president added more fuel to a legal fight between religious institutions and the Justice Department after tweeting that churches in Texas —which are not taxed— should benefit from FEMA relief funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey, which is subsidized by American taxpayers.

“Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others),” the president wrote on Twitter late Friday.

Trump’s call for the churches to be treated “just like others” could be seen as a call for equal treatment of secular non-profits and religiously-based organizations in how FEMA divvies up its disaster relief funds. It is unclear whether President Trump’s call would similarly apply to mosques, synagogues and other religious institutions who assisted victims of victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Churches, of course, are tax exempt in the first place because they are supposed to offer public services, like, for example, assisting the community in the aftermath of a hurricane. So while churches may indeed have helped the victims from Hurricane Harvey, making them eligible to receive federal funds when they don’t pay into the system is not only inherently counter-intuitive but displays a very tenuous grasp of U.S. fiscal policy.

Though President Trump did not explicitly reference the churches by name, the public endorsement of the legal actions facing his federal agency could serve as a complicating factor in the case.

As soon as his misguided comment landed on the internet, Twitter users set the president straight:

What is your response to Trump?

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