Litman:Trump’s candidacy complicates a potential criminal case against him, but it can’t protect him from one
When the federal government first targeted a private corporation as a criminal target, in order to prosecute them for alleged crimes, it did so against two of the world’s most hated corporations: Exxon Mobile and ChevronTexaco.
In the case of Exxon, an Exxon executive was eventually brought to trial and convicted of manslaughter, as well as obstruction of justice and conspiracy. The executive was sentenced to two years in federal prison. With regard to Chevron Texaco, the case was dismissed by the Justice Department on the grounds that the company was immune from criminal penalties under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
And now Donald Trump’s candidacy has placed a target on Trump Tower, even though he has been accused of engaging in illegal activities to get a foreign government to build a Trump Tower, which would violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and also could prove to be a violation of the Constitution’s Foreign Corruption Practices Act.
If Trump’s candidacy does result in charges against him or other alleged violations of law, the president’s lawyers won’t be able to use the Emoluments Clause as a defense. Nor will they be able to argue that violations of U.S. law have nothing to do with foreign corrupt practices — which the president is alleged to have engaged in.
All that makes Trump’s potential criminal liability to be the “single biggest threat to a major news organization” in the history of the United States.
However, the media landscape is far from a hostile one. As Bloomberg columnist Noah Shachtman pointed out, a single criminal indictment could have a far greater impact on the media than any Trump scandal.
While Trump’s candidacy has the potential to make a potential criminal case against him much more serious, it can’t save Trump from a potential investigation into these allegations and their possible ramifications.
Trump’s critics point out that Trump is not the first person to be forced to defend himself against allegations that appear to violate the law.