According to an infographic, the average multinational enterprise will settle between 100 to 1,000 lawsuits in a decade, depending on the business, so it’s no surprise that the master of deals himself squashed a few toes on his way to the top; 4,095 toes to be exact. From his casino, university and golf club, Donald Trump has put up Michael Jordan numbers when it comes to lawsuits. But there is one case in particular that interests me – the needle in the proverbial haystack.
The lawsuit was brought forth by three protestors who allege they were roughed up and ejected by Trump supporters at a campaign rally after Trump barked from the stage, “Get’em out of here!” That phrase remains at the center of the case, as the plaintiffs claim it riled up the crowd and caused Trump supporters to take action. A video of the event captures Matthew Heimbach, a well-known white nationalist, and a Korean army veteran pushing and punching the protestors as they were leaving the rally.
To the experienced lawyer, filing a lawsuit against the debatable aggravator instead of the assailant is already a reach; now, imagine that the man you are reaching for is the President of the United States. But a few left-field factors breathe some life into this case, in what’s shaping up to be a true David versus Goliath story.
Trump’s team of lawyers argued that the term “Get’em out of here!” was protected by the First Amendment and not directed at the protestors. The judge ruled it was said in the imperative, as a command and instruction. Their next move was to throw out the case since the protestors assumed risk of injury protesting rally, which was denied again since Kentucky abolished that statute years ago.
Then something even more incredible happened: both assailants declared their innocence by claiming they were acting in the directive of Trump. So, in a turn of events, a white supremacist shifted blame not on the three black protestors, but on to the candidate backed by every white-power group in America. In Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, he promised to heal the divisions and unite the country to ensure “American greatness.” I would have never guessed this is how he’d keep that promise.
Trump’s most recent filing is an immunity claim, which one can’t help but feel childish reading: “Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is the President of the United States.” Then I realized Trump’s presidency was nothing more than a business move. As the avalanche of lawsuits came crashing down, he simply protected himself with executive privilege. This chapter was left out in his book “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”
It’s unfair that as the playing field begins to flatten, Trump can silence and throw out the entire case. There is no privilege or safeguard in the eyes of the law and that includes the president. I recall that exact same immunity claim was used by Nixon 40 years ago.
Although the stakes and magnitude of the cases differ, the beauty of the judicial system is that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. In terms of his war on the media and lack of transparency, Trump’s presidency has chilling echoes of the Nixon administration; it’s without surprise that Trump used the same immunity claim.
Trump’s lawyers requested a jury trial with their immunity claim filing. I believe the plaintiffs deserve a trail, especially since their case has significant merit. Considering the arguments made, the statements from the assailants and the video, I imagine the jury to be chomping at the bit coming to court. Guilty or not, the greatest injustice would be if there were no decision.
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