Justice Department Lends its Firepower to Defend Trump in Investigations Into His Private Finances

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Professor Jed Shugerman acted as a legal expert for a Washington Post article that discusses recent incidences where the Department of Justice has come to President Trump’s defense in lawsuits where he is being sued and is supporting him in lawsuits where he is suing others.

Legal experts have said Trump’s arguments are a sharp departure from existing precedent: In the 1970s, for instance, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Nixon had to turn over Oval Office tape recordings sought by prosecutors.

“What [Trump is] asking for, it seems implicitly, is for lower federal courts to ignore U.S. v. Nixon, or ultimately for the Supreme Court to overrule U.S. v. Nixon,” said Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University.

In his lawsuit against Vance, Trump cited a 2018 blog post written by Shugerman — quoting a line saying that presidents can’t do their job well if they’re being prosecuted.

But Shugerman said Trump is misconstruing his argument. He believes presidents shouldn’t be prosecuted while in office — hauled out of Washington and into a courtroom. But Shugerman said that doesn’t mean presidents can’t be investigated, for possible prosecution after they leave office.

If presidents can’t even be investigated, he said, that might incentivize them toward worse behavior.

“It creates a perverse incentive for a president to then break more laws to get reelected,” since the president would face no investigation for those, either, Shugerman said. “It gives him carte blanche as long as he wins two terms.”

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