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I. Examples of President Trump claiming that federal law enforcement 
cannot check him 
A. President Trump has claimed an “absolute right” to control the Justice 
Department—a right extending to the ability to shut down 
investigations into the president and his associates that might bring to 
light wrongdoing by the president.  
1. President Trump has ​repeatedly​ ​claimed​ that he has an 
“​absolute right​” to interfere with and control the Justice 
Department and federal law enforcement matters, even to 
punish perceived enemies and reward his allies or to impede an 
investigation that would uncover his own unlawful conduct. 
a) President Trump and Attorney General William Barr 
fired​ Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for S.D.N.Y.who 
is prosecuting Trump’s lawyer and co-conspirator Michael 
Cohen and investigating other close Trump allies like 
Rudy Guiliani.  
b) After the state of California and automakers announced 
the adoption of stricter air quality emissions standards 
against his wishes, President Trump ordered the DOJ 
Antitrust Division political leadership to ​launch​ an 
investigation into automobile manufacturers.  
c) Trump​ ​withdrew​ ​his nomination for Jesse Liu, former 
U.S. attorney for D.C., to be appointed to a high-ranking 
position in the Treasury Department after Liu ​oversaw 
the McCabe prosecution and the case against Trump ally 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



Roger Stone (both of which stemmed from Special Counsel 
Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation).  
2. In a ​letter​ to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, President Trump’s 
personal attorney, John Dowd, expounded on that claimed 
power and noted that “[The president] could, if he wished, 
terminate” an inquiry into whether President Trump and his 
close associates broke the law. 
3. President Trump has also claimed the “​legal right​” to use official 
powers to instruct Justice Department officials to pursue 
favorable treatment for his political allies.  
a) The case against Michael Flynn, a close Trump associate 
who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about 
communications with Russia, was​ ​suddenly dropped​ by 
the Justice Department at the apparent behest of 
Attorney General Barr. Retired federal judge John 
Gleeson ​wrote​ that this was “​evidence of gross 
prosecutorial abuse,” and that the prosecutors “reveal an 
unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to 
dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a 
political ally of President Trump.” 
b) In the case against Roger Stone, a close Trump ally, the 
president ​claimed​ that he had the “absolute right” to 
intervene. The DOJ put “​heavy pressure​” on the Acting 
U.S. Attorney for D.C. “to cut Stone a break” and use 
“political considerations” when recommending a sentence. 
Stone was given “such unprecedentedly favorable 
treatment” because the A.U.S.A. was “afraid of the 
President.”  

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



B. President Trump has claimed that so long as he is exercising his 
presidential powers, anything that he does is legal.  
1. In a ​letter​ to Special Counsel Mueller, John Dowd also asserted 
that the president cannot obstruct justice because “the 
President’s actions . . . by virtue of his position as the chief law 
enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally 
constitute obstruction because that would amount to him 
obstructing himself . . . .” 
C. President Trump has claimed complete immunity from criminal 
process. 
1. In a Supreme Court ​filing​, President Trump’s lawyers claimed 
that he “cannot be criminally prosecuted while in office” and 
that “the remedy for wrongdoing by the President is 
impeachment, not criminal prosecution.” But President Trump’s 
argument extends well beyond criminal prosecution, to all 
stages of criminal proceedings, including investigation. 
2. The Justice Department has also ​opined​ and ​argued​ to the 
Supreme Court that the president cannot be indicted.  
D. And if all else fails, President Trump has rejected the view of the ​Office 
of Legal Counsel​ and has claimed the right to pardon himself and his 
close associates to dissuade cooperation with the Justice Department. 
1. President Trump has ​claimed​: “I have the absolute right to 
PARDON myself,” and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani ​told 
the Washington Post ​that Trump “probably” can pardon himself. 
2. Special Counsel Mueller ​found​ that President Trump’s decision 
to make “repeated statements suggesting that a pardon was a 
possibility for [his former campaign manager Paul] Manafort, 
while also making it clear that the President did not want 
Manafort to ‘flip’ and cooperate with the government” had the 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



“potential to influence Manafort’s decision whether to cooperate 
with the government” because “a pardon was a more likely 
possibility if Manafort continued not to cooperate with the 
government.” A federal district court later ​held​ that Mr. 
Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying to the Justice 
Department. 
II. Examples of President Trump claiming that Congress cannot check 
him 
A. President Trump has fired multiple inspectors general.  
1. As part of its COVID-19 response, Congress created an 
independent commission and inspector general to oversee a $2 
trillion relief package. Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general 
at the Department of Defense, was chosen by the independent 
commission to ensure that the funds were spent in the public 
interest. But, President Trump, in an ​attempt to evade 
oversight, said “I’ll be the oversight,” and ​replaced Fine​ with the 
Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General, Sean 
O’Donnell.  
2. Michael Atkinson, former inspector general for the intelligence 
community, ​was dismissed​ on April 3, 2020. Atkinson is the IG 
who notified Congress of the whistleblower complaint regarding 
a call between Ukraine and President Trump. This complaint 
generated the impeachment inquiry into the president.  
3. Christi Grimm, former Principal Deputy Inspector General of 
Health and Human Services ​was replaced​ ​on May 1, 2020, after 
overseeing the release of a COVID-19 ​report​ that highlighted 
the administration’s mishandling of the pandemic response, 
including s​evere shortages of testing supplies and extended 
waits for test results​.  

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



4. Steve Linick, former State Department Inspector General, was 
abruptly fired​ by the president on May 16, 2020, amid reports 
that Linick had recently opened a probe into Secretary of State 
and Trump ally Mike Pompeo.  
B. President Trump has rejected efforts by Congress to subpoena his 
personal records.  
1. President Trump’s lawyers have ​argued​ to the Supreme Court 
that Congress cannot subpoena his personal, pre-office records 
when determining whether presidential conflict-of-interest 
statutes need to be strengthened. They have asserted, among 
other things, that doing so would transgress the Constitution 
because such subpoenas would supposedly be distracting to the 
president and would “keep[] the President from fulfilling the 
obligations of his office.” 
2. The Office of Legal Counsel ​issued a 2019 opinion​ that Congress 
cannot obtain President Trump’s tax returns pursuant to statute 
because Congress was acting with an improper motive. 
C. President Trump has also rejected efforts by Congress to subpoena 
White House employees—even in the context of an impeachment 
inquiry—suggesting that they are absolutely immune from subpoena. 
1. The Office of Legal Counsel has repeatedly claimed that top 
White House advisors have ​absolute​ ​immunity​ from 
congressional subpoenas. 
2. In court, the government has argued that President Trump and 
his advisors are ​absolutely immune from congressional 
oversight​, even in the context of impeachment. 
3. The White House ​categorically refused​ to cooperate with 
impeachment proceedings. 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



4. But, at the same time, President Trump’s lawyers have argued 
that he cannot be impeached for ​obstructing a congressional 
investigation​. They have also argued that impeachment would 
be improper when there are no “​witness[es] with actual 
knowledge​” that could testify as to President Trump’s actions 
(even though, as noted above, President Trump has also claimed 
that such individuals are completely immune from subpoena). 
D. President Trump has rejected the idea that the use of his 
constitutional powers to further his electoral self-interest can 
constitute an impeachable offense.  
1. In impeachment proceedings, President Trump’s ​counsel​ argued 
that he does not commit an impeachable offense (i.e., a high 
crime or misdemeanor) when he takes actions “which he believes 
will help him get elected” if he believes those actions are “in the 
public interest.” 
2. Instead, President Trump has argued that he can only be 
impeached for committing a ​“crime” or “crime-like”​ offense, even 
though he has also ​suggested​ he is ​incapable​ of committing 
crimes when exercising his official powers because Article II 
gives him “​the right to do whatever I want as president​.” And he 
has also argued that he can shut down investigations into 
associates that might uncover evidence of criminal activity. 
III. Examples of President Trump claiming that the courts cannot check 
him 
A. President Trump has argued that the courts have no power to stop him 
from taking unlawful actions. 
1. Justice Department lawyers ​have​ ​repeatedly​ argued that a court 
cannot issue injunctive relief “directly against the President for 
his official conduct.” Thus, according to the Justice Department, 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



the federal courts have no power to order President Trump to 
follow the Constitution. 
2. The Justice Department has also argued that the federal courts 
are powerless to even consider whether President Trump’s 
claims of absolute immunity from subpoena are correct, and that 
the federal courts should ​leave it to Congress​ to decide whether 
to impeach the president for obstructing a congressional 
investigation. (The argument that courts cannot enforce 
congressional subpoenas in this context unfortunately ​prevailed 
in the D.C. Circuit recently, in a blow to Congress’s role as a 
check on the executive.) 
B. Moreover, even when courts do conclude that they have the power to 
issue orders compelling government action, President Trump has used 
his pardon power to undermine the incentive of government officials to 
follow judicial orders. 
1. In 2017, President Trump ​pardoned​ Sheriff Joe Arpaio for his 
criminal contempt conviction after Sheriff Arpaio disregarded 
court orders remedying constitutional violations, suggesting that 
the Sheriff was “​convicted for doing his job​.” 
2. In 2019, President Trump reportedly (i) told border agents not to 
follow ​judicial orders​ requiring the entry of migrants and (ii) 
offered to pardon​ the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security 
were he ever convicted for disobeying the law. 
IV. Examples of President Trump claiming that states cannot check him, 
even for actions that have absolutely nothing to do with his 
presidential duties 
A. President Trump has argued that he is completely immune from any 
obligation to respond to state criminal investigations, even when the 
investigation concerns unofficial conduct. 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



1. President Trump’s lawyers have argued to the Supreme Court 
that not only would it be unconstitutional for state prosecutors 
to indict the president for not paying his taxes, but also that it is 
unconstitutional for state prosecutors to even subpoena ​third 
parties​ ​seeking information related to the president because 
doing so would supposedly distract the president, thereby 
violating the Supremacy Clause. 
B. President Trump has also argued that he is immune from all lawsuits 
in state court, even when the suits concern unofficial, pre-office 
conduct.  
1. President Trump’s lawyers have argued that he is ​immune​ ​from 
all lawsuits in state court because “any assertion of jurisdiction 
by a state court over the President will inevitably interfere with 
. . . his or her ability to exercise the President’s Article II 
powers.”  
V. Examples of President Trump using law enforcement and other 
punitive measures to target his critics and perceived enemies.  
A. President Trump has has used, or threatened to use, the regulatory 
and enforcement powers of government to punish the speech of 
journalists in at least four ways: 
1. initiating​ a government review to ​raise postal rates​ to punish 
the owner of the ​Washington Post​; 
2. directing​ DOJ enforcement actions against media companies 
including CNN’s parent company; 
3. interfering​ with White House press access; 
4. suing​ ​former national security adviser John Bolton and 
threatening him with “criminal problems” to prevent the 
publication of a potentially damning book about Trump; 
5. and ​threatening​ to revoke broadcast licenses. 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



B. The president frequently criticized former acting FBI Director Andrew 
McCabe, who authorized the FBI’s investigation into possible 
obstruction of justice by the president related to the Russia probe. In 
apparent response, DOJ officials ​instructed​ prosecutors to criminally 
investigate McCabe -- while Trump continued to publicly ​vilify​ McCabe 
as a criminal.  
C. President Trump ​continues t​ o pressure foreign governments to 
investigate his political opponents.  
1. President Trump asked Ukraine to investigate his political 
opponent Joe Biden. ​In an ​effort to dig up dirt ​on his political 
opponent, the president withheld hundreds of millions of dollars 
in military aid to U.S. ally Ukraine. Moreover, he attempted to 
cover up this effort ​dozens of times​ by preventing witnesses from 
testifying or refusing to share documents with Congress during 
the resulting impeachment inquiry.  
a) As soon as his impeachment trial ended, President Trump 
fired​ ​former EU ambassador ​Gordon Sondland and 
Colonel Alexander Vindman in retaliation for testifying in 
the House impeachment inquiry.   
b) Trump also ​told​ staffers that he wanted to know the 
identity of the whistleblower who filed a complaint 
against him, calling the person a “spy” and accusing them 
of committing treason.  
2. President Trump also publicly encouraged China to look into 
Biden, ​saying​: ​“China should start an investigation into the 
Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as 
what happened with Ukraine . . . if they don’t do what we want, 
we have tremendous power.” 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 



D. President Trump used federal law enforcement officials to ​forcibly 
clear​ peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square using tear gas and 
pepper balls, in order to stage a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s 
Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.  
1. When former Defense Secretary and Trump appointee Jim 
Mattis ​criticized​ the president’s actions, saying Trump is 
someone who “tries to divide [the American people],” the 
president appeared to justify the use of force by re-tweeting a 
letter​ calling the protesters terrorists.  
E. President Trump​ ​threatened to withhold​ aid from ​Michigan​ and 
Nevada because both states pursued mail-in voting measures in order 
to protect voters from exposing themselves to COVID-19 at the ballot 
box, a policy Trump does not support.  
1. Trump went so far as to ​tweet​ that he would “hold up funding to 
Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” This is 
after Trump ​urged​ Mike Pence to ignore governors who don’t 
demonstrate enough gratitude toward the federal government’s 
handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  
2. President Trump also used Twitter to ​encourage right-wing 
protesters​ to violate state-mandated stay at home orders.  
F. President Trump issued an executive order targeting social media 
companies in retaliation against Twitter for ​fact-checking his tweets​.  
1. On May 26, 2020, President Trump erroneously claimed on 
Twitter that vote-by-mail will lead to fraud and forgeries. In 
response to numerous ​similar claims​ by the president, Twitter 
affixed a fact check feature to the president’s tweet.  
2. President Trump’s ​Executive Order​ ​was designed to ​expose 
social media platforms to increased legal liability as punishment 
for supposedly standing against him.  

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 


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G. President Trump has targeted public health officials for attempting to 
correct misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.  
1. He​ ​fired​ Rick Bright, ​director of the Department of Health and 
Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and 
Development Authority, after Bright voiced concerns about 
pushing for the use of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus 
miracle drug.  
H. President Trump believes his authority over individual states is 
absolute, stating during a coronavirus ​press conference​ that his power 
over states is “total.” 

Last Updated on June 25, 2020 


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