Donald Trump sure knows how to unite Americans around football.
When Donald Trump tweeted for a boycott of the NFL if team owners didn’t fire players for protesting racism, Trump may have broken a law that is punishable by a fine, jail time or both – and Trump may have further disqualified himself from serving in public office.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
According to Laurence Tribe, Trump’s tweet may have violated US 18, Section 227.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) September 24, 2017
Under the law,
“(a)Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity—
takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or
influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
(b)In this section, the term “covered government person” means—
a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;
an employee of either House of Congress; or
the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).
If one accepts that Trump as the Republican Party’s leader has repeatedly defended racists, while repeatedly condemning opponents of racism, then there is a basis to conclude that Trump’s tweet was partisan.
Moreover, given Trump’s history, one can infer from his tweet that he is calling on his supporters to boycott the NFL if they don’t fire football players who peacefully protest racism. That would qualify as a partisan activity, wouldn’t it?
Perhaps it’s too much to hope that Mr. Trump will be held accountable under this law or any of the others he has broken while in office.
But, as our Managing Editor, Sarah Jones tweeted, Trump’s approach may be enough for many of us to stay in the room during a football game.
Donald Trump more amazing than I first thought, as am actually considering not leaving the room the next time football is on.
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) September 24, 2017
In reality, that would be the height of respect for America.
Seriously speaking, if we are going to talk about respect for America, bring it, Mr. Trump – given that you don’t respect America enough to fight a campaign without help from a hostile foreign power.
Respecting America means respecting its constitution, which includes the right to free speech and peaceful protest.
Trump incited violence against peaceful protestors throughout his campaign. He apologized to Erdogan who stood by as his thugs assaulted Americans peacefully protesting on American soil, Turkey’s authoritarian regime.
Several times, Trump described the only violent people in Charlottesville, the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, as “very fine people.”
Respecting America means respecting free speech.