Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump’s claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell.
The host played a notorious clip of Trump.
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible,” Trump argued.
“And now he has gone beyond that,” O’Donnell noted. “Now the president is sayin, ‘I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'”
“In New York City today the president’s lawyers sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance,” O’Donnell explained. “And in filing the lawsuit, the president’s lawyers told the court ‘the president thus cannot be subject to criminal process for any conduct of any kind while he is serving as president.’ So according to the president’s lawyers, Donald Trump could commit murder — he could commit murder on Fifth Avenue with the whole world watching on TV and there is nothing law enforcement could do about that as long as Donald Trump is president.”
For analysis, O’Donnell interviewed Tribe, who has taught at Harvard Law School for fifty years and argued three-dozen cases before the United States Supreme Court.
“Can the president shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and the Manhattan district attorney simply has to look the other way?” O’Donnell asked.
“The answer is no,” Tribe replied. “We don’t have a constitution, thank goodness, in which the president is that much above the law.”
“But in fact, the position that his lawyers were taking today in the federal court filing is even more extreme than that. They have taken the position that the president’s company cannot be investigated, that those who may have conspired with him to commit financial and other crimes cannot be investigated, that the whole state proceeding must be stopped in its tracks,” he continued.
Tribe said Trump was “basically inviting the country to kick him out of office so he can be held accountable to the law.”
“That’s very kind of him, but I doubt that’s his intention,” he quipped.
“And it’s clear that his position now is ‘Nobody can do anything to me, they can’t touch me. I have Article Two on my side. You can do what I want. Congress can’t touch me, they can’t ask questions of anyone who has ever worked with me or anyone whose had anything to do with me, state courts can’t investigate me, the federal government can’t indict me and, you know, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to impeach me, so I’m home free and I can get away with murder.’ That can’t be the law in the United States,” Tribe said.
“That’s not why we fought a revolution against a king just in order to get a tyrant. It’s astonishing and hopefully, this will finally wake people up and realize this guy has got to go,” he said.
“It’s treachery if not treason and it’s bribery and it’s unacceptable,” Tribe added.