The Nation: Reagan, Trump, and the Price of Presidential Impunity
Presidential Reform Project co-chair Jack Goldsmith is featured in the following article from The Nation.
In 2017, K.T. McFarland, who had briefly served as deputy national security adviser early in the Trump administration, was interviewed about contacts Trump adviser Michael Flynn had with the Russian government in the weeks before Trump was inaugurated. According to the FBI report, “Based on her study of prior presidential transitions, McFarland believed the sorts of things Flynn did were not unusual. She cited Richard Nixon’s involvement in Vietnam War peace talks and Ronald Reagan’s purported dealings with Iran to free American hostages during their transitions as precedent for proactive foreign policy engagements by an incoming administration. Most incoming administrations did similar things. No ‘red light’ or ‘alarm bells’ went off in her head when she heard what Flynn was doing.”
Over the weekend, Trump was urging his followers to protest if he is arrested by New York prosecutors over alleged hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. The question of arresting a former president is a thorny one. There are prudential voices, such as Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith, who urge caution because such an arrest could lead to political divisions. Reporter Wesley Lowery even raises the possibility of violence (as indeed Trump himself seems to be hinting at), although more as a risk we should be prepared for rather than a definitive argument against arresting Trump.