WaPo: Trump Claims Executive Privilege Over Meetings His Campaign Paid For
Donald Trump's assertions of executive privilege were always bullshit. Seeking to hide the details of his attempted soft coup from the House's January 6 Select Committee, Trump has claimed that everything from a proposed election lawsuit drafted by a civilian attorney to his conversations with private citizen Steve Bannon is off limits. You can't ask about my conversations with campaign staff, he insists, because, uhhhh, EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE!
But that weak shit argument is looking even weaker today after the Washington Post revealed that Trump used campaign funds to reimburse Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik for expenses incurred in their quixotic effort to overturn the election. Not to put too fine a point on it, but executive privilege covers the government's business, and the government's business doesn't go on the campaign's credit card. So good luck arguing that whatever Kerik, Giuliani, Eastman, Bannon, and the rest of the goon squad cooked up at the Willard Hotel is covered by executive privilege.
This being Trump, of course, he tried to make his underlings foot the bill. The Post reports that it was only after Jeanine Pirro interceded on their behalf that the campaign reimbursed Kerik and Giuliani for out-of-pocket travel costs and for hotel space in DC. All told, the campaign forked over more than $225,000 to firms associated with Kerik and Guiliani for expenses, although they never got paid for the hundreds of hours of time they spent trying to overturn the election, so make of that one what you will.
Legal scholars interviewed by the Post agreed that the campaign footing the bill makes it even harder for Trump to claim executive privilege over the events that took place at the Willard Hotel. Even John "Torture Memo" Yoo agreed that "If he acts as a president, he gets these things we talk about — executive privilege and immunity. But if he's acting as a candidate, he's deprived of all of those protections."
But the Post was able to dig up one legal authority to say that executive privilege applies to campaign activity. Can you guess who it is?
Of course you can!
Conservative lawyer Alan Dershowitz disputed that assessment, claiming that "a lot of things that are done on behalf of an incumbent president are done by campaigns."
What do those words even mean? The business of the executive branch doesn't get outsourced to a presidential campaign. And just because that corrupt buffoon hosted the RNC at the White House doesn't mean that it's the government's business to support the reelection of an incumbent president. Much less to provide cover for the campaign when Congress comes knocking asking what it did to foment an attempted violent coup.
In the final analysis, it probably doesn't matter. Steve Bannon knows damn well that a court will make mincemeat out of his nonsensical invocation of executive privilege, just as Trump spox Taylor Budowich knows he's talking out his ass when he insists his boss "is making executive privilege determinations carefully, based on the merits and in accordance with law and customs of interbranch comity." All they have to do is punt until 2022 and hope that Republicans take back the House and shut down the January 6 Committee.
As if we needed another reason to get our shit together ASAP.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.