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The need to hold Trump Accountable for his Libelous Accusations

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I am writing to suggest a tactic to help us win the House and Senate this November, and make Trump pay for the crimes he has committed and the harm he’s doing to our world.

 

As you know, Trump recently accused the Obama Administration of separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents.

 

In their fact check piece earlier today, NPR reported the following:

 

Quote

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep Tuesday, former President Barack Obama's domestic policy director, Cecilia Muñoz, stated unequivocally that separating children from their parents was not a policy the Obama administration followed.

 

https://www.npr.org/2018/05/29/615211215/fact-check-are-democrats-responsible-for-dhs-separating-children-from-their-pare

 

Trump is accusing President Obama and the entire Democratic Party of doing something that was not proscribed by a prior policy initiative, and was therefore against the law. 

 

On March 6, 2017, NBC News published a piece suggesting that President Obama could legally sue Trump over his claim that he illegally ordered the surveillance of Trump Tower.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/analysis-does-obama-have-grounds-sue-trump-libel-n729376

 

In that article, NBC wrote:


 

Quote

 

Although the law provides a great deal of leeway for political speech, that protection is not all encompassing. And because of the way Trump has leveled unsubstantiated accusations at Obama, he may have libeled his predecessor.

 

"He's basically stating that Mr. Obama committed crimes, and to state that somebody has committed a crime when it's false is clearly defamatory," said Benjamin Zipursky, who teaches defamation law at Fordham University Law School in New York.

 

"What the plaintiff has to show is that the defendant has said, written or tweeted something that is a false statement of fact that harms the reputation of the defendant, and because Obama is a public official, you have to show that it was done with some sort of intent to harm," said Jay Wexler, a professor of constitutional law at Boston University Law School.


 

 

Trump clearly intended to harm not just President Obama, but the entire Democratic Party, with both the illegal surveillance and recent parent-children separation statements.

Voters are justifiably wary of backing candidates who are too passive to defend themselves from libelous attacks. If we continue to let Trump get away with his libels, we will probably continue to pay dearly at the polls.
 
I’m suggesting our Democratic Party campaigns and President Obama immediately file a legal suit against Trump in this matter. Even if the Supreme Court were to exonerate Trump of libel, the American People would not buy their argument. They would also probably conclude that Trump had succeeded at corrupting our highest judicial body. If we act speedily, we can make Trump and the Republicans who defend him pay for his recklessness and immorality by losing both the House and Senate this November. 
 

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It's tempting; but there are reasons not to do it.


One, there is a tradition of especially broad freedoms on free speech in the political area - think of all the people who have rightly compared trump to Hitler and many other very critical statements, some accurate, some not, some partially so or debatable. There's a 'chilling effect' even to the most justified limits on that to weigh.

 

Even if such limits are put in place, what's used responsibly in one situation has a risk of abuse in another. By doing it at all, you're opening the door to everyone doing it - including expanding trump's ability to sue his critics.

 

If Obama were to lose the lawsuit, the political damage to Democrats would be very large.

 

Even if he didn't, the political issues cold have great costs. It could be used to accuse Democrats of more 'witch hunt' and trying to silence critics - attacks which are likely politically effective which is why trump has lied to play the victim as he has already.


Also it would add a new distraction to the public debate, making it harder for Democrats to get voters to look at the issues as more attention went to the Obama versus trump lawsuit.

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