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Should U.S. Presidents Be Prosecuted?

Should U.S. Presidents Be Prosecuted?

By RZR News Team
Aug 08, 2023

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The issue of prosecuting presidents presents a nuanced challenge, as their positions carry immense responsibilities and unique dynamics. While some argue against presidential prosecution due to the complexities of the role, recent events surrounding former President Donald Trump’s legal battles raise seemingly obvious issues about ideological bias overshadowing justice.

Presidents hold a position that demands undivided attention to matters of national importance. Prosecuting a former president likely diverts vital focus away from pressing issues and disrupts the stability of the nation. This consideration underscores the rationale behind granting some degree of immunity to former presidents.

However, in the case of Donald Trump, questions arise about the motivations behind legal actions against him. His prosecution appears rooted more in ideological differences and a perceived battle against the deep state rather than genuine legal merit. 

Moreover, the focus on Trump’s legal battles even distracts from addressing the actions of other former presidents, such as Joe Biden (and his son Hunter) and previous President Barack Obama; it is essential to remember that justice should be blind to political affiliations, but unfortunately, that is no longer possible in the U.S. This apparent selective prosecution has largely undermined public trust in the judicial system and hampered any sense of national unity.

While presidential immunity recognizes the unique demands of the role, it is crucial to ensure that legal actions against any former president are grounded in objective legal assessments, not driven by political ideology. Upholding the principles of justice, transparency and equal treatment should guide decisions on whether or not to prosecute a president, fostering a stronger and more unified nation. Prosecuting Donald Trump for effectively nothing while excusing legitimately criminal behaviors from Joe Biden and Barack Obama appears to do the exact opposite.

Learn more about the conservative viewpoint

It should go without question that if one commits a crime then they should face the consequences. In the wake of the indictment of former President Donald Trump, there is a stir of conversations over if anyone in the position of president can be prosecuted so for argument’s sake, this analysis will hypothetically be mentioning him. Legal experts say that criminal charges against Trump could lead to him serving prison time, so it appears as if there should not be any discussion over if any president can face prosecution. A better question would be, if convicted and sentenced, how would the time be served?

Trump faces up to 78 felony charges across three criminal cases that result in some lengthy prison time. If convicted, he faces years of sentencing that would exceed a lifetime – he would basically get a life sentence. Therefore, if Trump happens to win the 2024 presidential election and indeed has to serve prison time, is it possible for him to do it from a prison cell, be under some sort of house arrest or be granted a deferment?

Due to him specifically keeping classified documents at his home in Mar-a-Lago, it should be considered reasonable that the privilege such as the president going on vacation on the taxpayer’s dime can be taken away. During Trump’s past presidency, he often stayed at Mar-a-lago. If he is prohibited from traveling for pleasure, there is no way he can do any illegal activity outside of the White House and he would be easier to monitor. Perhaps a sentence with work release could be given because this type of sentencing allows one to leave a prison facility to attend work and have to report back to the prison during a certain time of the day. Although this is normally given at the end of a prisoner’s sentence, a president being an exception is plausible but may be difficult. As president, there are many work obligations to tackle and traveling internationally and domestically is one of them. The obligation to attend conferences and bilateral meetings outside the country and visit certain communities within the county to then have to report back to the prison appears uniquely burdening and unreasonable. 

Additionally, it would be a matter of discussion if the president would have access to the White House. This now leads to the option of a form of house arrest. For example, the Oval Office is where historic decisions are made, agreements are hammered out, legislation is discussed and meetings are hosted. This would mean not having to be placed in prison but having to stay within the White House and only leaving for presidential duties while being monitored and restricting travel. 

Finally, there is always an option for a type of deferred sentence. This decision would entail Trump serving his prison sentence after his presidential term. It would arguably be the easiest for taxpayers, who would have to fund the security for the time of arrest as well as the entourage that the presidents travel with. Therefore, there would be no need for negotiations regarding how the president could legally perform duties while under arrest. This would also be an example of a balance that demonstrates that a president cannot be convicted during their term but does not evade ultimate accountability.

It is quite interesting to imagine how it would work for any president of the U.S. to be convicted and simultaneously serve time while in office. Unfortunately, if one does the crime they do the time, even if that means the president has to perform virtual speeches, can only be on a public stage at certain times or serve a sentence after their term.

– Briauna B.

Learn more about the independent viewpoint

The recent indictments of former-President Donald Trump raise important questions about whether U.S. presidents should be immune from prosecution. To be clear, most of the charges being brought against the former president either predate or succeed his time in office. Therefore, to make an argument in favor of this proposition, it would be best to focus on allegations made outside of the presidential capacity. 

When the proposition that presidents should be prosecuted was raised before Trump, most considered the question to be frivolous, mainly because we had not seen a situation where a former president is indicted. Yet, as we see today, that is no longer the case. That being said, when there is actual evidence of criminal wrongdoing, it is incumbent upon the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a thorough investigation and conclude whether there is enough evidence to prosecute a party, regardless of its political affiliations. 

We saw this play out in real-time when Jack Smith was able to secure an indictment against the former president for his alleged mishandling of classified documents. Although many supporters of Trump were quick to claim that these indictments were politically motivated, it is important to remember that the indictments were issued by a grand jury. This jury was made up of citizens who were given evidence by both sides and, in an objective and impartial manner, concluded that there was enough evidence to bring charges against Trump. 

Moreover, some argue that if Trump’s actions are to be considered “criminal,” then President Biden should also be held accountable for his alleged mishandling of classified documents that occurred while he was vice president. A major difference between these two cases, however, is that President Biden and his aides have complied with law enforcement without any problems, whereas there is evidence that Trump, despite numerous warnings, withheld many of the documents that were supposed to be turned over.

But, for argument’s sake, let us assume that both Biden and Trump were equal in their actions. If that were the case, many liberals would have no problem with the DOJ pursuing charges against Biden. Simply put, if there is evidence that the president committed a federal offense, it is the DOJ’s duty to hold him accountable. 

All that being said, it will be interesting to see how future presidents consider this example of Trump when doing legally-questionable things. If Trump is convicted, it is likely that we see a serious “tightening-up” of presidential behavior going forward. 

– James Demertzis

Learn more about the liberal viewpoint

Anyone who commits an act of aggression against one or more people should be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions, including sitting and former presidents. While there is a possibility that the recent indictments against Trump are politically motivated, that does not negate what he did, and if a jury believes he committed one or more acts of aggression, then he should be held accountable. 

Many Trump supporters are clamoring for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to be prosecuted, too for mishandling classified information. Absolutely! Although they complied with law enforcement agencies regarding this information, classified information should never have been placed on a private server or stored in a private residence. 

Any Libertarian should disregard the accusations against Biden and Trump, for they pale in comparison to actual crimes both presidents committed while in office: war crimes. Donald Trump sold billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, as did Joe Biden, helping the Saudis continue to wage devastation across Yemen, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The Saudis are committing war crimes in Yemen, and the U.S., under the Trump and Biden administrations, aided and abetted them, which itself is a war crime. 

The 45th and 46th presidents are not the only ones who committed war crimes. Barack Obama dropped over 26,000 bombs on Middle Eastern countries in 2016 alone, and he authorized 542 drone strikes throughout his term, which killed over 300 civilians. Among the dead were members of a wedding procession. George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses, claiming that the country had weapons of mass destruction and was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, leading to around 300,000 civilian deaths. Bill Clinton bombed civilians in Serbia, killing 1500 civilians

American presidents who engage in criminal activity should be prosecuted. Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden should all be prosecuted and sentenced to rot in prison because all of them should be considered war criminals. 

– Pietro S. Geraci

Learn more about the libertarian viewpoint