The Cable

5 Things for Which Trump Might Want to Prosecute People

Trump wonders whether Americans who burn the flag should be prosecuted. We wonder what else he might want to prosecute.


President-elect Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that people who burn the American flag should be punished by a year in jail or loss of U.S. citizenship. His tweet at 6:55 a.m. came seemingly without provocation or specific cause:

We will leave criticism of this point to constitutional scholars, such as President Barack Obama. But, so we might stay ready, here are some other things for which Donald Trump might want to prosecute people.

  1. Not finding proof of voter fraud. Late Monday evening, the president-elect tweeted out sentiment from a 16-year-old who said CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny did not have evidence that Trump did not suffer from voter fraud in the election that he won. This is a double negative, but it’s not not prosecutable.
  2. Expressing political discontent through the performing arts. For thousands of years, playwrights and performers have provided criticism of the politics of the day. Nevertheless, the president-elect demanded an apology from the cast of Hamilton for asking Vice President-elect Mike Pence to respect the rights of all Americans. Is that a threat to freedom of expression? Maybe! Does that make it ineligible for prosecution? No!
  3. Lampooning the powerful on a comedy program. Watching a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, Donald Trump wondered aloud to himself on Twitter whether there should be “Equal time for us?” We do not believe making fun of the party in power and the president is currently prosecutable, but we are pretty sure it could be.
  4. Requesting recounts. Do not even get him started.
  5. Sharing classified information with one’s lover-biographer. Actually, he’s apparently totally fine with that one.

Photo credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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