Wednesday, October 23, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He claimed, in court, as clearly as he possibly could, that he is above all laws.

During the campaign, Trump famously declared that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York. This was a claim about how popular he imagined himself to be, not a legal argument.

Since taking office, Trump has leaned heavily on the assumption that a president can't be criminally prosecuted while in office—not something that has been tested in court, but a longstanding DOJ directive. (Trump has been implicated in any number of crimes, including as an unindicted co-conspirator in the crimes for which his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is now in prison.)

Today, his lawyer argued in a federal court that, as president, Trump is not only immune from prosecution for any crime—including specifically murdering someone in cold blood—but that he cannot even be investigated for any crime while in office. In fact, attorney William Consovoy argued, even third parties—in this case, the accounting firm that did Trump's taxes—cannot be approached for evidence related to any presidential crime whatsoever, no matter how serious.

Why should I care?

  • Only someone who wants to be a dictator would try to claim the powers of a dictator.
  • No matter how badly Trump may need for it to be true, the president is not above the law.