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News & Politics

Will Trump’s Legal Issues Overwhelm Presidency?

— January 16, 2017

It’s no secret that President-elect Trump has tangled with the courts a few times due to his many legal issues, but will it impact his presidency? It’s a fair question, considering that he’s currently entrenched in lawsuits with a couple celebrity chefs, and “is also caught up in an investigation by the New York attorney general into whether he used his charity for personal benefit.” Unfortunately, this can become a big problem for a sitting president. Since our country’s founding, only a few presidents have actually undergone “legal depositions during their terms, and even fewer have become embroiled in private lawsuits.” Trump is set to join that small band of presidents.

Many are also concerned that his business will interfere with his role as the President of the United States, though Trump has said on more than one occasion that he intends to trust his adult sons with the management of his company. However, even that comes with strings attached, as he will retain “an ownership interest and the legal liability that comes with it.” But why the concern? Well, legal experts are concerned that this “would leave him more exposed to lawsuits, including ones financed by deep-pocketed political opponents who could use the courts as one more battleground to fight his administration.”

Other people, like the former Chief White House Ethics Counselor, Norman Eisen, are worried that Trump “is going to be not just a litigation magnet, but a litigation vortex that sucks in every political and personal adversary he has.” Because of this, Eisen has led the charge in encouraging Trump to “sell his assets and put the cash in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest and legal pitfalls.”

But wait, can a sitting president actually be sued? Well, kind of. While constitutional immunity protections ensure that Trump can’t be sued over “official acts in the Oval Office,” he can be “named in lawsuits for personal actions or those involving his businesses.” This means the American public might see Trump answering questions under oath in future depositions, just like “President Bill Clinton did in the Paula Jones case that led to his 1998 impeachment by the House of Representatives.”

Trump University; Image Courtesy of Getty Images,
Trump University; Image Courtesy of Getty Images,

However, there are some who think Trump may just fork over the money to settle any remaining cases against him soon after he’s sworn in, much like he did after the election. Shortly after the election, Trump “paid $25 million to settle three lawsuits alleging Trump University misled students into paying as much as $35,000 a year for instruction of little value.” Naturally, he said he did nothing wrong, but merely wanted the lawsuits settled “so he could focus on the presidency.”

Only time will tell how all of Trump’s legal issues will play out. Until then, the American public, and the world can only hope that his tangos with the courtrooms won’t interfere with his new job.


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