A Friday afternoon New York Times bombshell report stating that former president Donald Trump demanded Justice Department officials simply claim the 2020 presidential election was ‘corrupt” and then ‘leave the rest to him” has critics of Trump calling for his arrest.
Raw Story: Bombshell revelations emerged on Friday that former President Donald Trump told the top officials at the United States Department of Justice to declare the results of the 2020 election “corrupt” in a desperate bid to cling to power.
Many legal experts, including conservative attorney George Conway, think that this is a clear violation of 18 U.S.C. § 610, which details actions that constitute illegal coercion of political activity.
18 U.S. Code § 610 – Coercion of political activity
It shall be unlawful for any person to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, any employee of the Federal Government as defined in section 7322(1) of title 5, United States Code, to engage in, or not to engage in, any political activity, including, but not limited to, voting or refusing to vote for any candidate or measure in any election, making or refusing to make any political contribution, or working or refusing to work on behalf of any candidate. Any person who violates this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
(Added Pub. L. 103–94, § 4(c)(1), Oct. 6, 1993, 107 Stat. 1005; amended Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, § 601(a)(1), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3497.)
Specifically, the law states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, any employee of the Federal Government… to engage in, or not to engage in, any political activity, including, but not limited to, voting or refusing to vote for any candidate or measure in any election, making or refusing to make any political contribution, or working or refusing to work on behalf of any candidate.”
Conway on Twitter argues that this technically would have made it a crime for Trump “merely to have ordered the acting attorney general to march down Pennsylvania Avenue with a ‘Trump 2020’ flag,” and he believes this is much more serious.
The law also states that anyone found guilty of this offense “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
The report from the Times’ Katie Benner is based upon contemporaneous notes from Richard P. Donoghue taken during a phone call on Dec. 27 as Trump pushed acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to intercede on his behalf in a futile effort to stay in power.
Quoting Trump, Donoghue reportedly wrote, “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me.”
Reacting to the report, commenters on Twitter — including some Constitutional law experts — called the president’s comments a smoking gun that should lead to his prosecution. You can see some of their comments below:
Today’s blockbuster report adds to the evidence that Donald Trump pressured the Department of Justice to help him overturn the election. @CREWcrew yesterday asked the Department to investigate his apparent violations of criminal law through this conduct.https://t.co/f3HuAr79tU
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) July 30, 2021
"'Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me' & to congressional allies, [Deputy Acting AG Richard] Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response." That's part of a pattern showing Trump's criminal planning to foment a coup:https://t.co/FqiPglOelm
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 30, 2021
George Conway has been and is right on this.
Many suffer from Trump-crime-fatigue, but this one is clear and huge abuse of power.
The reported facts and set of events are direct match for the heart of the Hatch Act's criminal provisions.
Also sounds like plenty of evidence. https://t.co/Y1LwcRlMbx
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) July 30, 2021
Trump pushed the DOJ to "just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me." He tried to usurp our democracy.
While Trump failed, he came awfully close. We need reform to ensure that no president can abuse his power in this way ever again. https://t.co/6s2JFjWCSS
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) July 30, 2021