On January 6th, Donald Trump began the day by urging his supporters to fight for him. He later went back to a tent and watched the chaos that he caused. The former president, however, didn’t seem troubled by the attack on the US Capitol. In fact, he seemed downright delighted.
Trump was later impeached for his actions, but was not convicted by the US Senate. But one prominent legal expert thinks there is a much easier way to hold him responsible for his actions that day. Writing for Just Security, Albert Alschuler, who teaches at Northwestern and the University of Chicago, opined that Trump could be charged for failing to act.
“The Constitution gave Trump a clear legal duty to intervene. Article II, Section 3 provides, “[The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This provision permits good-faith exercises of law-enforcement discretion, but a president unmistakably violates his duty when he refuses to enforce the law because he wants a crime to occur—when, for example, he hopes to advance his own interests through the criminal conduct of others. As abundant evidence shows, that’s what transpired on Jan. 6.”
The legal scholar continues, “Even if his direction to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” was not intended to start a riot, it led to violence and placed the Vice President and members of Congress in peril. A person who creates a physical danger—even innocently—has a legal duty to take reasonable measures to prevent injury from occurring. Someone who’s started a fire can’t just let it burn out of control.”
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Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based politics and technology writer. His work has been featured in psfk.com, foxsports.com, and PoliticusUSA. An avid pet lover, he has been known to contribute to Pet Lifestyles Magazine. He enjoys sports, politics, technology, and spending time at the shore with his family.