Trump's Fascistic, un-American rantings about NFL players kneeling in protest during the playing of the National Anthem are offensive and repugnant. But they're also probably illegal, carrying a possible penalty to Trump of disqualification from public office, fines, and up to 15 years in prison.
There's a specific statute at play, and it's 18 U.S.C. sec. 227. This statute reads:
The first question could be, Is the President covered by this statute? Yes, he is specifically listed as a "covered government person" under (b)(3).
Next, Does the President have the intent to influence an employment decision or employment practice of a private entity? Clearly, he does. The current version of his outrage started when he said, at an Alabama rally in support of his losing candidate, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired.'"
If this sort-of rhetorical question phrasing isn't obvious enough, his subsequent tweets make explicitly clear that he intends to influence the employment decisions and practices of the NFL. He urges flatly, "Fire or suspend!" and "NFL should change policy!"
Next, with that intent, has there been some official act he's taken, influenced, offered or threatened? For a while, that was unclear. Surely when the president presses for an action so strongly and repeatedly, there's some implied threat that he'll use his power to effectuate some official act in response to non-compliance. Read the rest