With Donald Trump making the worldwide headlines nearly every single day, perhaps for making seemingly racist comments, attacking staff, or as part of any number of the investigations that are happening towards him and his involvement in Russia, the question of how prosecutable a president is becoming more talked about.
Should a president be immune from prosecution? Should former or past presidents be immune from prosecution? What reasonings are there behind such a question, and what’s the right thing to do? Today, we’re going to explore all the angles, so you can decide for yourself.
The Law Right Now
At the time of writing, no former president is currently immune from prosecution. This means that if the former president is found guilty for an act or activity in a court of law, he or she can be prosecuted, fined, and even set to jail.
To many people, this is enough. Human beings should all be treated equally, right? It doesn’t matter whether you commit a crime, or the president commits a crime, they should be treated equally because it’s against the law, right?
Unfortunately, there are complications.
A Grossly Simple Example
For a really, really simple example of these complications;
If someone random on the street goes up to someone and sticks a knife into them, this is known as murder, and you can go to jail for it. However, if a surgeon sticks a knife into someone, perhaps even a paramedic at the scene of the same crime, this is acceptable.
Of course, for this situation, it’s easy to see who’s right and who’s wrong. After all, one is legal, and the other isn’t. Nevertheless, when it comes to the presidency, this is an individual who is making decisions on behalf of a country which is home to millions and millions of people.
If the president gives the order to shoot a missile into another country, are they a murderer or the people they killed or a saviour for protecting the people of his country? This is, of course, not a black and white subject, and will vary from case to case.
What About Laws at Home?
Another complication arises when you think about how a president is acting according to the laws of their own country. Sending in an army to another country to murder thousands of people can be seen as a good thing, but what about if they killed someone in their home country?
It’s hard to draw a line on what’s acceptable and what’s not, especially the power a president has, specifically when it comes to media control and propaganda.
We could go on and, on all day, about whether a president should or should not be immune from criminal prosecution, but the truth of the matter is that it’s not as simple as saying yes, they should be, or no they shouldn’t.
Instead, these decisions should be made on a situational basis and should take into account everything that’s happening at the time, rather than just having a set law in times where change happens almost every day.