the rest of his life: Laurence Tribe
Max Zahn with Andy SerwerWed, February 17, 2021, 7:17 AM
House Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) — the chair of the Committee on Homeland Security — filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing former President Donald Trump of conspiring to incite the deadly attack on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
The filing marks the latest in a slew of lawsuits and probes that center on a range of allegations, including efforts to influence election officials in Georgia, defame women who accused him of sexual assault, and manipulate the value of his assets for tax and loan purposes.
In a new interview, Laurence Tribe — one of the nation’s top constitutional law scholars, who briefly served at the Justice Department during the Obama administration — told Yahoo Finance that Trump faces a “a huge number of lawsuits” that will occupy his attention for the remainder of his life.
It remains unclear whether Trump will end up serving time in prison, Tribe says, predicting that no matter the outcome of litigation Trump will “gradually fade away,” in part due to the grueling demands of his legal defense.
‘A panoply of charges’
“He is fully subject to civil and criminal lawsuits both state and federal across the land,” says Tribe, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University Law School who taught there for more than 50 years.
“It’s a panoply of charges,” he adds. “So [Trump] is going to be busy defending himself from now until the end of his life.”
The Senate on Saturday acquitted Trump of an impeachment charge that alleged he had incited the Jan. 6 attack, falling 10 votes short of the 67-vote threshold necessary for a conviction. But many of the Republican Senators who voted to acquit, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said Trump could face charges in the criminal justice system for his actions.
The lawsuit filed by Thompson on Tuesday follows a criminal probe opened by prosecutors in Georgia last week over Trump’s attempt to overturn the outcome of the election. Trump also faces defamation lawsuits filed by former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll and former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, who allege Trump wrongfully described their sexual assault claims against him as false.
Plus, Trump faces separate probes from New York Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance over alleged financial impropriety tied to his corporate and personal conduct. The investigation from James, which is civil and not criminal, focuses on whether Trump improperly inflated the values of his properties.
Meanwhile, Vance is pursuing a criminal probe into possible insurance, tax, and bank-related fraud into Trump’s business dealings, The New York Times reported in December. Progressives have also been urging Joe Biden’s Justice Department to investigate Trump, as well — though the current president has expressed reluctance to prosecute his predecessor.
Still, Trump no longer enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution that may have been afforded to him while in office, Tribe said.
“The only immunity that a former president has is for actions that are within the outer perimeter of his official power,” Tribe says, suggesting that such protection likely does not apply to any of the lawsuits or probes he currently faces.
Tribe spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.
Over his career, Tribe argued 35 cases before the Supreme Court and wrote a number of books, most recently “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment,” which he co-authored with Georgetown University Law Professor Joshua Matz.
Tribe’s list of former students includes top figures on both sides of the aisle: former President Barack Obama, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and House Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the lead House impeachment manager who made the case against Trump.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Tribe expressed uncertainty about whether Trump would ultimately face conviction or liability in any of the current or prospective lawsuits. But Tribe predicted that the series of legal actions would diminish Trump’s prominence.
“There may be political decisions by the Justice Department to turn the page,” Tribe says. “I do think in the court of history, he will be convicted.”
“He himself will gradually fade away, whether in an orange jumpsuit or not,” he adds.