SUE ME IF Y U CAN

Can Pres­i­dent Trump be dragged into court?

Metro USA (New York) - - Front Page - KIM­BERLY AQUILINA @KimESTAqui kim­berly.aquilina@metro.us

Av­er­age citizen Don­ald Trump tweeted some doozies that left many scratch­ing their heads. At times Pres­i­dent Trump’s tweets are in­flam­ma­tory, but can the POTUS be sued for what he says on Twit­ter?

“The pres­i­dent is ... not above the civil law and he is not above the crim­i­nal law,” Alan Sash, an at­tor­ney with the law of­fices of McLaugh­lin & Stern, said, but the chances some­one can win a defama­tion case against Trump are slim.

This week, Trump’s pri­vate at­tor­neys as­serted that he should be im­mune from a defama­tion law­suit filed against him by a for­mer contestant on the NBC show “The Ap­pren­tice” be­cause of his pres­i­den­tial du­ties.

“Iron­i­cally [the at­tor­neys] are pulling from the First Amend­ment — that the pres­i­dent has the right to say what is on his mind with­out fear of law­suits,” Sash con­tin­ued.

The pres­i­dent doesn’t have con­sti­tu­tional im­mu­nity from defama­tion, but Trump, just like any av­er­age Tom, Don and Harry can­not be sued for tweet­ing his opin­ion.

“It makes no dif­fer­ence that he’s pres­i­dent and, I think that’s fog­ging up the anal­y­sis here,” Sash told Metro.

If Trump drives his car into yours, you can sue him for neg­li­gence, but if he calls some­one a liar, per­haps a wo­man ac­cus­ing him of sex­ual as­sault or a news­pa­per that printed some­thing he didn’t like, that would fall un­der opin­ion or hy­per­bole.

Ac­cus­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama of wire­tap­ping dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion is a se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tion, Sash said, but Trump could al­ways claim it was hy­per­bole: “I didn’t give specifics,” he could ar­gue. Obama wire­tapped Trump Tower. “I live in Trump Tower. Close enough.”

“If I stum­bled out of a bar and I started say­ing Obama is wire­tap­ping me, peo­ple will think I’m a nutjob, but when the pres­i­dent says it, it has some weight,” Sash ex­plained. “But if he heard it from some­one [like Fox News] he is then sourc­ing it, and that doesn’t make it a state­ment.

“He is just spread­ing false ru­mors.”

Proving li­bel or slan­der against a public per­son is an up­hill bat­tle, Sash said, but if Trump were to ac­cuse a pri­vate per­son of a crime, there might be trou­ble.

And what about Trump’s tweets against Nord­strom af­ter the re­tailer dumped daugh­ter Ivanka’s fash­ion la­bel?

“That’s life,” Sash said. Peo­ple are al­lowed to vote with their pock­et­books, and it isn’t il­le­gal for a pres­i­dent to act “un­pres­i­den­tial,” he added.

Sash said he would warn any elected of­fi­cial to be care­ful try­ing to ex­plain any topic in 140 char­ac­ters or a few sen­tences on Face­book.

“It’s out of con­text and whether it’s defama­tion or not, it’s great to com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple, but with is­sues that can’t be boiled down to 140 char­ac­ters, it’s best to leave it for a medium where you can ex­plain your­self in full,” Sash said.

GETTY IMAGES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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