President Trump on Sunday tweeted yet again about NFL players who do not stand for the national anthem, asking the league to “fire or suspend” them.– Photo credit: Baltimore Sun
Amid the controversy surrounding President Trump suggesting NFL team owners should fire any player who protests during the national anthem, a more serious legal matter comes to the fore and could create severe legal implications for Trump.
Did President Trump in his speech before the Huntsville, Alabama rally commit a federal crime? More significant to the question with implications of a possible crime—could Trump’s tweets be used as evidence to argue a case of a federal crime?
Is it fairly reasonable to state that the tweets are also arguably in violation of 18 U.S. code § 227, which prohibits the president (among others), from “attempting to influence or interfere” in a private company’s labor matter, to urge a “political” firing?
Is President Trump’s urging of the firing of such a private company employee (union covered, collective bargaining agreement governed) —”centered on protected political first amendment expression.”
Fact—It is a Federal crime for a Federal officer, including the president, to influence the hiring or firing decisions of a private company due to political reasons.
On the heels of Trump’s speech at the Alabama rally, he walked the razor’s edge—many voicing concerns via social media and the airwaves that President Trump has broken the law or has come very close to it.
Their chief argument—President Trump called for professional sports team players to be fired in the event they “kneel” or “sit” during the National Anthem. Many in the legal arena state this is ‘not’ a federal crime.
If the president expands his suggestion by threatening to “suspend” the Federal contract or FBI/DHS protection or security coordination with the NFL or NBA or NHL or MLB until such players are fired, Trump will have violated Federal law. This law includes fine and prison up to 15 years.
The legal ramifications should sound an alarm for Trump’s Department of Justice. Trump’s rant to fire NFL players kneeling during the national anthem should also have the legal experts within the White House, and other legal, sports law “experts” examining the statute 18 USC §227, specifically section (a) (1) of the relevant statute, which requires:
[takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act]
Looking further into the language of the relevant statute;
U.S. Code § 227 – Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch:
(a) Whoever, being a covered government person, with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity—
(1) takes or withholds, or offers or threatens to take or withhold, an official act, or
(2) influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
(b) In this section, the term “covered government person” means—
(1) a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress;
(2) an employee of either House of Congress; or
(3) the President, Vice President, an employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission, or any other executive branch employee (as such term is defined under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code).
Regarding the legal ramifications, a question of Trump committing a federal crime could be weighted and measured against the varying principles surrounding what or who is deemed exempt from federal anti-trust laws. What was the intent of Trump and does the NFL franchise fall into the category of a “private company.”
“It is a Federal crime for a Federal officer, including the President, to try to influence the hiring or firing decisions of a private company due to political reasons.”
Addressing whether Trump has violated any laws— his rant about the NFL players hangs in the balance of how one interprets the law, and without question, Trump comes very close to breaking this law.
He has already called for the NFL players firing if they “sit” or “kneel” during the National Anthem. That itself may not be interpreted by some legal experts as a crime. However; if Trump expands his suggestion of firing NFL players by threatening to suspend Federal contracts or FBI/DHS protection or security coordination with the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB until players are fired, the president will have violated Federal law.
The specific statute—18 U.S. Code § 227 – Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch—as it relates to President Trump’s actions includes fine and prison up to 15 years.
The National Football League is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference
Founded in 1920, the NFL, formerly known as the American Professional Football Conference (1920-1921), is headquartered in New York City and considered the most popular sports league in North America.
The NFL is a tax-exempt, publicly traded company and According to Forbes, the value of the 32 NFL teams combined is about $45.7 billion. On average, this is 4.8 times annual revenue. Compare this to Manchester United, which is publicly traded (NYSE: MANU).
Related information on the NFL and Trump:
- Roger Goodell calls out Donald Trump for making divisive comments about the NFL
- 14 Billionaire NFL Team Owners Speak Out Against Trump’s Negative NFL Comments
- List of NFL Billionaire Owners
- NFL’s Richest Owners
LeNora Millen 09-25-17