Donald Trump has effectively just said he could blackmail a 'compromised' US Senator
Is the president breaking the law with this latest threat?
President Donald Trump held another doozy of a press conference in the White House Rose Garden yesterday to unveil his new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.
Everyone’s talking about the moment he straight-up insulted a female news reporter right to her face. “I know you’re not thinking, you never do,” the POTUS told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega.
*Vomits in mouth a little bit*
But there’s another startling moment that might have slipped under your radar: when the President of the United States kind of threatened to blackmail an unnamed US Senator.
While defending his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and assault and has faced questions about his drinking, Trump ignored the question from a reporter and instead teased that he has dirt on a Democratic member of Congress.
“I happen to know some United States senators,” Trump said, “one who is on the other side, who is pretty aggressive. I’ve seen that person in very bad situations. OK? I’ve seen that person in very, very bad situations. Somewhat compromising. And you know, I think it’s very unfair to bring up things like this.”
Later, Trump declined to identify the senator, saying he’d save it for his post–White House memoir.
“No, I think I’ll save it for a book like everybody else,” he added.
While this sort of ridiculous behaviour is definitely on-brand for Trump, he might want to consult his lawyers before making any more threats.
According to experts at USLegal.com, blackmail has been defined in the broad sense to mean “compelling someone to act against their will or gaining or attempting to gain something of value” and courts vary on interpreting what “something of value” includes, but it’s not necessarily a monetary payment in all cases, meaning threats to out someone in a book could - potentially - be breaking the law.
And under federal and state laws, blackmail can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
We know he won’t, but someone really needs to get Trump to stick to his script at his next big press conference. He won’t keep getting away with missteps like this forever.