'In the aftermath of his recent acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump is on the payback warpath. ... Yet there remains a dangerous tendency in some quarters to soft-pedal Trump's conduct,' writes eliehonig for CNNOpinion
While a president certainly has a broad right to fire officials, he is not entitled to do so for criminal reasons -- like witness retaliation, writes Elie Honig.In this weekly column"Cross Exam," Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, gives his take on the latest legal news. Post your questions below. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN. Watch Honig answer readers' questions on"CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera" at 5:40 p.m. ET Sundays. (CNN)In the aftermath of his recent acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, President Donald Trump is on the payback warpath. His actions range from the disgraceful use of the Justice Department (with an eager assist from Attorney General William Barr) as a blunt instrument to protect his political allies and to target his perceived opponents to the obvious witness retaliation against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who served as a key impeachment witness, and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman (a National Security Council attorney who did not testify). Yet there remains a dangerous tendency in some quarters to soft-pedal Trump's conduct. For example, in a Washington Post op-ed,"Paranoid or Presidential: Perhaps Both, but Trump Broke No Laws When He Ousted Vindman," Professor Jonathan Turley takes issue with my assertion (which has been echoed by other former federal prosecutors) that Trump committed criminal witness retaliation when he removed the Vindman brothers from their White House positions. (National security adviser Robert O'Brien denied that these firings were an act of retaliation.) Turley is wrong. His view of unfettered, unaccountable presidential powers defies law and common sense, and smacks of the flimsy excuse-making that has propped up Trump's abuse of the Justice Department to do his political bidding. Turley first argues that Trump's"post-trial action is not obstruction or witness tampering, and those officials are not guaranteed to retain such positions indefinitely." National security adviser says Vindman brothers weren't fired -- Trump says military should decide their fateOk, but how about the actual crime we're talking about here: not necessarily obstruction or tampering (though both arguably could apply) but witness retaliation. In his article, Turley concedes that Trump's actions were wrong and"that they appear as retaliatory as they were unnecessary." Indeed, Trump undeniably acted in retaliation for Vindman's testimony in the House impeachment proceedings. Trump himself publicly admitted that his purpose was to retaliate, directly mentioning Vindman's testimony as a cause for the move; Vindman"reported contents of my 'perfect' calls incorrectly," said Trump. When asked if Vindman deserves disciplinary action, Trump said that the decision lies with the military. And Donald Trump Jr. outright gloated in a tweet, delighting in the vengeful nature of the removals of two decorated military veterans.Read More Turley also cites a string of examples of prior presidents firing advisers"for what they viewed as insubordination or opposition to their policies." But that is simply not what happened here. Even if Trump's motives behind removing Alexander Vindman were in question, riddle me this: why go after Vindman's twin brother as well? As a former mafia prosecutor, I'm tempted to call this a mob-like tactic, but even the mob has a rule against stooping so low as to take vengeance on family members.The argument Turley makes ultimately rests on the tired premise that the President is essentially above the law and can fire officials for any reason he pleases. But while a president certainly has a broad right to fire officials, he is not entitled to do so for criminal reasons. For example, assume hypothetically that an old high school nemesis of Vindman's walked into the West Wing, dropped $10,000 cash on the Resolute Desk and declared,"President Trump, I'd like you to remove Vindman. Nail his brother too, if you don't mind." If Trump took the cash and then removed the Vindmans, would he be guilty of accepting a bribe? Of course. Just as a president cannot legally fire an official in return for a bribe (a criminal act), he also cannot fire an official with an intent to retaliate against a witness (also a crime). Get our free weekly newsletterSign up for CNN Opinion's new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook No, Trump will not be indicted while in office -- the Justice Department has a longstanding policy against bringing criminal charges against a sitting president. But, as the policy itself acknowledges, a president can be charged once out of office. That decision will be up to some future attorney general. And there are bigger questions at play about Trump's accountability, and that of individuals who would try to excuse utterly inexcusable and dangerous conduct. Read more: CNN
eliehonig Opinion And cnni. I just watched a portion of CuomoPrimeTime ChrisCuomo CHRIS CUOMO Is a BOLD-FACED LIAR and CON-MAN, while trying to make himself look so not guilty and righteous. It’s HILARIOUS WATCHING HIM. Then at the end CUOMO & donlemon are sickening. MyOpinion eliehonig Opinion “Conduct”! Look at the words fake news use. He is President and as the President he can build and create his own staff. Just LIKE EVERY OTHER PRESIDENT!
eliehonig Opinion “Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to - .... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.” 7-9 yrs? eliehonig Opinion One thing I give KKKTrump credit is that KKKTrump gives u guys nicknames same to his puppets Rep. n Dem. n nobody has d guts to put KKKTrump a nickname, not d puppet republicans, those r his puppets, Dem. AFRAID, yep, muy. “ MACHOS” bunch of cowards!
eliehonig Opinion All republicans need to be charged as co conspirators eliehonig Opinion One thing was reported last week about this obese orange mammal hopefully it happens soon. eliehonig Opinion President Trump blew the whistle on Biden's corruption and gets impeached. I thought we protected whistle blowers. Biden runs free and continues to run for president. Biden belongs in jail not The White House.
eliehonig Opinion It's not soft pedaling, it's evening the playing field eliehonig Opinion eliehonig Opinion Republicans are too soft James comey and his gang can all be indicted Eric Ciaramella and his lawyer can be indicted the Biden’s and Nancy investigate and indicte them stop being so soft eliehonig Opinion America wake up! Vomit the kool aid and be healed!
Twitter reacts to Trump tweet of Larry David mocking Trump supportersPresident Trump tweeted a scene from 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' as if it was a compliment to his supporters but it was actually mocking them, and Twitter took notice. Actually it was kind of funny... calm down Trumps helicopter is green ... 😂😂😂 can’t fix stupid 😂😂 realDonaldTrump
eliehonig Opinion Of course it's a crime but as long as the corrupt GOP enables you and Fox News brainwashes millions of dense puppets--he can do whatever he pleases. America is now a third-world dictatorship. eliehonig Opinion Too bad. You don't bad mouth the boss and thing you have a job when you come back. Doesn't matter if it is Trump, Bezos or a McDonald's store manager.
eliehonig Opinion No he didn’t; He fired an employee who was insubordinate. cnnfakenews TRUMP2020LandsideVictory realDonaldTrump DOJPH AnnCoulter TuckerCarlson eliehonig Opinion Opinion, opinion, opinion. That is all I see now from all these 'news' outlets. Just change your name to Tabloid Trash already and get it over with.
eliehonig Opinion It appears that Democracy is on the way out and Autocracy is on the way in. November 3, 2020 may be the last chance to preserve Democracy in the U.S. We must vote to oust Trump and his enablers or we will be no different than Saudi Arabia and North Korea. eliehonig Opinion What’s new...
eliehonig Opinion This is another feckless CNN opinion Folks! Their TDS is becoming epic! eliehonig Opinion Draining the swamp at last ,some creatures gasping their last breaths . eliehonig Opinion CNN went out of its way to dox a guy who shared a meme. Maybe you should collectively take a step back before whining about payback. Speaking about paying, have you cut Nick Sandman a check yet?
eliehonig Opinion Trump is wholly convinced he truly is above the law... that‘s what USA get!
Ivanka Trump: 'Women are thriving in the Trump economy''Women are thriving like never before,' senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump told CNBC. SaraEisen thanks for giving me a reason to turn off the tv. that vomitous cancer IvankaTrump STINKS HYPOCRISY I'm sure her millionaire/billionaire girlfriends certainly are!
eliehonig Opinion He sure did. Start Impeachment all over but get it Right this Time realDonaldTrump eliehonig Opinion But the Republicans have no God damn balls to impeach him even if the crims doing the fcking Cha Cha in front of them eliehonig Opinion Trial? Did you mean farce..... eliehonig Opinion When are we going to admit he's working to pay back the Russian mob?
eliehonig Opinion Obstructing federal sentencing is also a crime. eliehonig Opinion Also: RNC FUNDED ROUGHLY 11,000 AUTOMATED CALLS TO JAM UP HOUSE DEMOCRATS' PHONE LINES AMID IMPEACHMENT BATTLE: REPORT RedStateBlues_ eliehonig Opinion In 'some' quarters? How about in every single freaking Congressional Republican's quarters. Save one. That's not 'some' that's 99%
eliehonig Opinion Its called draining the swap. eliehonig Opinion Have to admire his restraint in biding his time until the witch hunt played out. eliehonig Opinion Evil begets evil!
President Trump Thinks His Crime Friend's Crime Wasn't Even That IllegalOn Monday evening, federal prosecutors in the Roger Stone case asked a judge for a nine-year sentence as punishment for his seven felony convictions, including threatening a witness and interfering with a congressional investigation into crimes possibly committed by his friend Donald Trump. But after President Trump wrote a night tweet calling the recommendation “horrible and unfair” while insisting that the “real crimes were on the other side,” the U.S. Justice Department has intervened to ask for a lighter sentence.\n
eliehonig Opinion The simple fact he's giving retribution and threatening whistleblowers should be enough to remove him and arrest him without bail! Any normal citizen would be in jail!!!! eliehonig Opinion You call it payback, we call it seeking justice. I believe us. YOU are the fake news. Still. eliehonig Opinion Son of a b*tch
eliehonig Opinion And who's surprised? eliehonig Opinion I think Democrats should investigate Trump's children and son-in-law! I don't believe Republicans will protect Trump's children and son-in-law as well as trump? eliehonig Opinion eliehonig Opinion Corruption and its enablers 🤷♀️ eliehonig Opinion
eliehonig Opinion KARMA WILL FIND HIM! eliehonig Opinion As if you didn't see that COMING
The Political Thriller Donald Trump Helped Cancel Is Coming Out After AllAttacked by Trump and delayed by its studio, the political thriller The Hunt has a new release date.
eliehonig Opinion I just can’t understand what the republicans are doing? This self destructive behavior destroys them too, don’t they see that? eliehonig Opinion If as the President, people in my own Government and the Media, were so jealous, hateful, and deranged that they put me through hell as I accomplished great things for our country...I would be a hell of a lot less patient as realDonaldTrump .
eliehonig Opinion A crime they say? LMAO. You people need to stop already. Are your ratings not low enough? Making yourselves look like fools around every corner not getting old yet? O well, the 'uneducated' liberal base is still here for you. They will listen and yell your glory. eliehonig Opinion eliehonig Opinion Yên tâm đi ! Cái gì cũng được mua bằng lòng thiện lương . Thứ khiến ma cà rồng phải quay đầu vô điều kiện
eliehonig Opinion eliehonig Opinion grow some nads people in government and when your heart says make a stand get on your feet!!
Manchin to Trump: I'm no Munchkin, and by the way, you're 'much heavier than me'Sen. Joe Manchin and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg respond to taunts by President Trump in a similar way. WestVirginia owes the rest of us an apology for that snake oil salesman Manchin.
Prosecutors call for lower sentence for Roger Stone, Trump denies he spoke with Justice DepartmentBREAKING: The entire team of federal prosecutors involved in Roger Stone's case has withdrawn. It was not immediately clear whether their withdrawals were an act of protest of the Justice Department's reversal on its sentencing recommendation for Stone. Donnie. STRIKES. Again.———- SAD How many years did Eric Holder serve in prison for lying? Is Sen Collins 'concerned' by this? Or is she just 'mildly troubled.'