'A whole new level': Harvard law professor says not even Nixon would have made the legal claims Trump is
Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe on MSNBC (screengrab)

In response to a lawsuit from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Donald Trump responded that he can't be sued for anything he did as the president. MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell noted that it sounded a lot like former President Richard Nixon, who said, "when the president does it, it's not illegal."

But when Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe reviewed the excuse and explained that not even Nixon would have made the excuses that Donald Trump is.

In a case involving a civil case against Nixon, the Supreme Court decided that when a president is exercising his/her official duties as president that he/she cannot be liable. It's hard to claim that Trump's speech inciting an insurrection because he lost an election is an official duty as president.

"The president's claim to stay in after being voted out by the people and the Electoral College really, takes chutzpah to a new level," said Tribe. "Saying 'I have a duty to you my subjects,' I can just hear George III from the play 'Hamilton,' 'I have a duty to you my loyal subjects!' To remain in office, to prevent Congress from counting the electoral votes that would kick me out of office — if a president had an official responsibility — if it was part of his job description to hold onto that office even after he's voted out of it, and to do it even by trying to have his own vice president hung in front of the Capitol by storming the Capitol, by killing Capitol Police, if that was part of the job description then the job that would be described is dictator, not president. So, it's not a claim likely to find favor, to put it mildly, with the courts of the United States."

"And impeachment power is in this case, when all those members of the Senate voted to acquit him, including Mitch McConnell, they said he will be held responsible, the law will follow him," Tribe continued. "To use that quotation from the tweet that you began with, the law will follow him. He will be held accountable. That's why we don't have to convict him. Well, this is the law holding him accountable. And he says, not me, I was president of the United States. He just has made a fundamental mistake. The president is not sovereign. The president is not the king of us, he's not -- he's not George III, he is not even George Washington. He is exercising power as an employee of the people of the United States. He answers to the people, and one of the ways you answer to the people is by being held accountable for the damages that you do when you aim an angry mob at members of Congress and others who get severely injured as a result."

He noted that Swalwell assumed that he was going to die and even said goodbye to his wife and children. Trump is trying to have it both ways and it simply won't work under the American legal system.

See his full explainer below:


Tribelaw talks trump lawsuits www.youtube.com