No, Trump Didn’t Break The Law By Suggesting NFL Firings
I wrote the book The Divided Era. The purpose of which is for people to recognize the magnitude and source of our current divisions, which are so profound I believe this period in time should be named The Divided Era.
The division we see in sports today certainly highlights that nearly every aspect of life is becoming politicized.
The criminalization of all things Trump (and all things Obama) is evidence of that as well.
So, I took it with a grain of salt when people suggested that President Trump violated federal law when he suggested players should be fired for disrespecting the flag.
The law they claim he violated is 18 U.S. Code 277, which states, in part:
“Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity . . .
(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or
(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
Yes, Trump is a “covered government person.” No, he didn’t threaten to withhold or do anything related to an “official act.” If Trump had said “they should be fired or I will seek to have their exempt tax status revoked,” that would have been closer to a violation. But he didn’t say that. Facts matter.
Beyond that, Trump’s comments were not directed “solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.”
Indeed, the flag is not a partisan symbol and no case or statute says that it is. According to then Chief Justice Rehnquist, in the Texas flag burning case: “The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party.”
In other words, it not a partisan symbol.
As such, respecting it or not (like burning it), is not partisan either and cannot be the basis of partisan political affiliation.
In sum, Trump didn’t break the law by suggesting firings. The law is designed to stop officials from saying things like, “If you [business] don’t fire those Democrats, I won’t vote for a tax break for you.” Again, that didn’t happen and facts matter.
So, for those whose hobby it has become to accuse the president of crimes, you will have to keep looking. This isn’t it.