Opinion | Why Prosecuting Trump Is a Very Bad Idea – By Eric Posner – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Posner, a law professor, is the author of “The Demagogue’s Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy From the Founders to Trump.”

Credit…Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images

“As the Biden administration slowly coalesces, there have been many calls for its Justice Department to prosecute Donald Trump for any crimes he may have committed while in office. The hope, proponents of this view argue, is to establish that the president is subject to the rule of law and to deter future presidents from breaking the law.

The problem with this agenda is that there is little evidence that Mr. Trump did commit crimes as president. A conviction, given what we know now, is all but impossible. The calls to investigate him echo the president’s own calls to investigate Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden based on mere speculation — calls that most people, especially liberals, rightly condemned.

The most plausible charge is that Mr. Trump obstructed justice by interfering with, and possibly lying to, Robert Mueller and his investigators. Critics also argue that Mr. Trump may have broken the law by threatening to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian government announced the opening of an investigation into the Bidens. A third possible charge is that Mr. Trump corruptly mixed his financial affairs with government business.

All of these charges would face formidable difficulties in court. No former president has ever been prosecuted for crimes committed during his tenure. Courts tread cautiously when new legal ground is broken, worried about upsetting reasonable expectations about what the law is. And judges interpret criminal laws strictly because the defendant’s freedom is at stake.”

David Lindsay: Useful warnings– This was not a fun read. Here is my favorite comment so far:

Concerned citizen
Lake Frederick VA1h ago
Times Pick

Totally agree that a FEDERAL prosecution of Trump would only keep him in the spotlight. The healthiest thing for our country is for him to fade into obscurity. The media can help by not amplifying his every crazy tweet. However, if the state and local authorities in New York can prove a crime, and he is found guilty of a felony on that level, then he is prohibited from mounting another reelection campaign in 2024. I hope they will go for it.

18 Replies631 Recommended

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