The Power of the President
As mentioned earlier, the Constitution grants the presidency a limited but potent set of expressed powers. The president serves as the civilian leader of the military and has the authority to grant pardons for federal crimes. The president has the ability to make federal appointments to key positions not just within the executive branch but federal judges and justices as well. The president may also negotiate treaties with other nations. However, such appointments and treaties are subject to the confirmation, or approval, of the Senate.
In times of national crisis the president is able to expand his or her authority. The president holds the power to declare a national state of emergency which may alter the functioning of the three branches of the federal government, nullify certain checks on presidential power, and suspend some of the rights of the citizens. This power is designed to allow the president the ability to act quickly and decisively in times of disaster, crisis, insurrection, or war. The United States still currently under a federal state of emergency and has been since September 11, 2001.
Executive privilege is the ability for the president and other executive officials to resist subpoenas and investigation by the legislative and judicial branches. While not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, the Supreme Court confirmed the legitimacy of executive privilege in the decision of United States v. Nixon stating that executive officials have a need for confidentiality but must surrender information in it is shown that there exists a greater public need to release privileged information than the public need to suppress it.
Executive orders are legally binding orders given by the president to federal administrative agencies. Executive orders are usually issued to guide federal agencies and officials in carrying out laws passed by Congress. However, some presidents have used executive orders to seemingly direct policy away from the intent of federal law or even make large-scale policy changes without Congressional approval. The use of executive orders has become increasingly controversial and seen by some as an attempt by presidents to ignore Constitutional checks and balances.