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I suppose I should be accustomed to this kind of wild speculation by now, but I’m both alarmed and fascinated by the people who live in a world where they believe this kind of thing might actually happen.
Sunday, MSNBC’s Joy Reid spent a portion of her show discussing what would happen if Trump resisted arrest by federal marshals.
In her scenario, Mueller subpoenas Trump, requiring him to testify before a grand jury. A rebellious Trump refuses to comply. His refusal prompts enforcement by a federal judge who sends federal marshals to bring Trump in, tossing the president into federal prison until he testifies.
Transcript courtesy of Real Clear Politics:
“Let’s say that Donald Trump decides he doesn’t want to give an interview with Mueller, but Mueller says ‘Oh, but you will.’ And he’s subpoenaed to [be] interview[ed] [by] Robert Mueller. And Donald Trump simply says, ‘I don’t recognize that subpoena.’ This is a president whose behavior is different as president of the United States. He doesn’t follow convention. Who would force him to comply with the subpoena ordering him to do an interview with Robert Mueller?” Reid asked.
“It would be a federal court judge,” former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman said.
“How would they enforce it?” she asked.
“Normally, a person who refuses to testify before a grand jury winds up being incarcerated for the time period of the grand jury which can be up to 18 months,” Akerman said. “So, one way to enforce it is to have Donald Trump taken by the federal marshals and put into federal prison until he testifies.”
This is my favorite part (RCP ctd):
“What if he refuses to open the White House door?” Reid asked, seriously. “What if he fires any Secret Service agent who would allow the federal marshals in? What if Donald Trump simply decides I don’t have to follow the law? ‘I refuse to be held under the law. No marshal can get into this White House and any Secret Service agent who defies me is fired.'”
“Well, at some point he is going to have to come out of the White House,” Akerman answered. “At some point, he is going to have to leave and the U.S. Marshals will be directed to take him into custody, bring him before a federal district court judge. He’ll be basically told that either he goes in and he testifies or he takes the Fifth Amendment. If he takes the Fifth Amendment, there’s not a problem. If he refuses to answer on the grounds that a truthful answer would tend to incriminate him he has the right to do that. If he does that, there’s no contempt. If he doesn’t do that, he can be directed to go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. End of story.”
This all reads more like the plotline of Homeland than real life. A president declaring sanctuary in the White House while the federal government demands he stands trial…these are things that happen in fascist (in the literal sense, not the internet dilution of the word) countries.
Even better (or worse?) this insane speculation comes after Special Counsel Mueller said Trump was not a target of his ongoing investigation.
Against the advice of his attorneys, Trump publicly toyed with voluntarily sitting down to chat with Mueller. He seems to have finally taken their advice, at least for the time being.
Democrats keep parroting Rep. Trey Gowdy’s assessment that if Trump has nothing to hide, he has nothing to lose by speaking with Mueller. As much as I appreciate Rep. Gowdy, Professor Jacobson has a wiser take on this issue:
“There is nothing, zero, that Donald Trump can tell Robert Mueller that Robert Mueller does not have another source for. And if there were such a pearl of information, it could be done by written questions. It does not need to be face-to-face. Because let’s face it, Donald Trump is somebody who shoots from the hip, he’s not going to worry very much about precise wording, so you can get yourself in trouble criminally with an overzealous prosecutor even if you want to tell the truth but if you do something which they will call obstruction of justice.
It would be insane for Donald Trump voluntarily to sit down and have a verbal interview with Robert Mueller’s team. Robert Mueller has put together a team of 13-14-15, however many lawyers, they are not there to walk away from this with some petty convictions of Paul Manafort and a couple of other people, and Michael Flynn. If that’s all they get from this, then Mueller will be considered a failure from the people who want Trump prosecuted. He is there for one reason and one reason only, to catch Donald Trump in something. Trump would be crazy if he goes in to a verbal back and forth with Mueller, where the slightest slip of a tongue could be used to claim obstruction of justice, or some other process crime.”
…If Robert Mueller thinks he has the legal authority to force Donald Trump to sit down with him and answer questions verbally, then let him go to court and get a court ruling to that effect. And appeal it, and take it up to the Supreme Court if need be. So if you’re forced to do it, of course you comply with what ultimately the Supreme Court says you have to do. But do not do it voluntarily.
This is truly peak whataboutism and fantastical delusion. I’m almost embarrassed for Reid. Almost.DONATE
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