Should Donald Trump Get a Mulligan on His Lawsuits?


Federalist Society stalwart Saikrishna Prakash thinks we need to cut Donald Trump some slack:

Unlike his predecessors, Trump faces or is pursuing a slew of civil lawsuits, perhaps as many as 75….The news is awash with reports that Trump’s lawyers have asked for a delay of proceedings until inauguration, saying the president-elect is now too busy to participate. But it is hard to see how Trump would have more time for this suit after he moves into the White House. Being president is not a part-time job.

….The new president appears doomed to be distracted by his private concerns. Fortunately, a solution is within our grasp. Congress can pass a law that would put these kinds of civil actions on hold while President Trump remains in office. The law would have to provide that any lawsuit against a sitting president or president-elect, filed before or after he or she assumed office, would not proceed until the president left office. Such a law wouldn’t protect the president from impeachment or criminal prosecution, but it would ensure that Trump would not be distracted by civil litigation arising out of his personal life or business interests.

Ha ha ha. That’s a good one, professor. But, um, no. There’s a reason that IOKIYAR—It’s OK If You’re A Republican—has become such a widely-used acronym. It’s because Republicans seem to think that anything goes when a Democrat is in office but Republicans should all be treated with kid gloves. Back in 1996, every Republican in the country thought it was a great idea to allow the Paula Jones lawsuit to go forward because, hey, Bill Clinton was in the White House. If it wrecked his agenda, that was great. If it provided an excuse to impeach him, that was great too. And anyway, spending a few hours in depositions is no big deal.

If that was true then, it’s true now. Everyone who voted for Trump knew about Trump’s penchant for lawsuits. It was all part of the package. The folks involved deserve their day in court.

For more on this, see Stephanie Mencimer’s piece about the Paula Jones case. Someone might want to ask Kellyanne Conway’s husband what he thinks of allowing sitting presidents to be sued in civil court.