Deaths from Covid-19 continued to mount this week as the U.S. surpassed 200,000 confirmed cases, more than any other country in the world. Experts increasingly point to President Donald Trump’s willful negligence as a primary cause of the pandemic’s intensity, but MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirscher takes things a step further, arguing controversially that Trump could be legally liable for coronavirus deaths after he leaves office. He makes the case to Mehdi Hasan on this week’s podcast.
Glenn Kirschner: I actually think he will see charges brought in each jurisdiction in which people have died as a result of his gross negligence. So I have a feeling that he has got a lot of criminal legal exposure coming at him beginning in January 2021.
Mehdi Hasan: Welcome to Deconstructed, I’m Mehdi Hasan. Broadcasting once again from home, because of the coronavirus of course. I hope you’re all staying safe and indoors because our lives are literally at stake.
GK: He acted in a grossly negligent way, and he failed to act. And that failure was a product of gross negligence. He hit the homicide bonanza.
MH: That’s my guest today, Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor with 30 years of trial experience who’s upset many on the right with this very provocative suggestion of his: that Trump could be prosecuted for negligent homicide.
But aside from triggering the MAGA snowflakes, is he right? Could the president really one day be prosecuted, put on trial for his role in exacerbating and worsening this deadly crisis?
Newscaster: New projections indicating that without drastic action, the United States could face a catastrophic loss of life from coronavirus, a death toll topping one million.
Newscaster: President Trump says he’s considering putting New York and two other states under quarantine to slow the spread.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro: The United States is now the center of a global pandemic. Cases of the coronavirus are rising exponentially.
MH: The number of deaths in the United States has now topped 4,000 – that’s more than the number of Americans killed on 9/11, on George W. Bush’s watch, and more than the number of Americans killed in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria in 2017, which was of course on Donald Trump’s watch.
Now let’s be clear: President Trump is not responsible for the existence, or the deadliness, of the coronavirus. He is however responsible for the catastrophically botched response to the spread of the virus inside of these United States since January.
Many experts believe that the number of deaths we’re seeing, and the rapid spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, which is now fast approaching 200,000 confirmed U.S. cases, the highest number on the planet, is a result of Trump’s willful negligence; that this president has American blood on his hands.
I mean, just listen to an exchange I had with a Harvard epidemiologist, Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, on my Al Jazeera English show, UpFront, just a few weeks ago:
MH: When you look at whether as Prime Minister Boris Johnson say, well, maybe we should let it go through. I’ve shaken lots of hands or Donald Trump playing golf saying I don’t need to get tested and my opponents are treating, it’s a new hoax from my opponents. Do these people potentially have blood on their hands?
Eric Feigl-Ding: I think so.
MH: People are dying because of their negligence.
EFD: Because Boris Johnson’s own health minister already came down with Covid-19. The fact that you’re neglecting the testing and U.S. had frozen testing for two and a half weeks. That is almost three-fold higher multiplication in terms of cases —
MH: Can we say at this point that there are people dead who might be alive had the governments handled it differently over the last six weeks?
EFD: I am pretty confident that is the case.
MH: Of course, some more cautious figures don’t agree with this, or at least don’t want to say so in public. Take the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee this past weekend:
Chuck Todd: Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands considering the slow response or is that too harsh of a criticism?
Joe Biden: I think that’s a little too harsh.
MH: Oh Joe. Joe, Joe, Joe. Pulling his punches there again. But look discussing Joe Biden’s bad judgement or his failure to stand up to the Republican right is a topic for another show.
I want to talk today about something much more urgent: the threat that Trump poses, continues to pose, to the lives of people in this country. Right now. As I speak. The blood that continues to be on his hands every day, as more and more Americans contract the virus and die from it.
Don’t be fooled by the change of tone which we heard at his daily political rally, sorry his daily White House press briefing, on Tuesday, where he very somberly and soberly talked about how bad the coming weeks will be, and held up charts showing the death toll could hit 240,000, even if the social distancing measures that he himself wanted to lift until the other day, even if they were to stay in place.
What Trump’s been doing this past week, pretending to take things seriously with his blasé talk of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. — more than double the American death toll in the Vietnam War, almost half as many Americans who died in World War II — and saying , ‘Well, that’s better than the 2.2 million deaths we would have had if I did nothing,” all of that is simply him moving the goalposts, trying to make you forget that just a week ago he wanted churches open and packed for Easter, he wanted people back at work, and he was still comparing the impact of the coronavirus to the flu:
Donald J. Trump: We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off every year.
MH: And yet here he was on Tuesday evening:
DJT: A lot of people have said, a lot of people have thought about, ‘Ride it out. Don’t do anything, just ride it out and think of it as the flu.’ But it’s not the flu. It’s vicious.
MH: Don’t be gaslit by this president. Remember: no matter the lies, the facts are the facts. The reason he has blood on his hands, the reason the US is looking at such a crazy high death toll right now, even with social distancing measures in place and testing ramped up, is because of him: his negligence, his incompetence, his conspiracy theories and denialism and coronavirus trutherism; his deliberate willful wasting of the months of January, February and half of March.
Never forget: South Korea and the United States had their first confirmed COVID-19 case on the same day back in January. South Korea took the threat seriously and by the start of March had tested 100,000 people for the virus. The United States under Trump didn’t take it seriously and had tested just 1,000 people by the start of March.
The South Koreans tried to flatten the curve; Trump went off to play golf and hold rallies with his base; he ignored warnings from his intelligence agencies and top scientists and health officials, and when he did publicly comment on the coronavirus it was to tell us that it was all under control. It was locked down. It was contained. It was going to disappear miraculously. It was one guy from China. It was such a small, tiny, irrelevant issue, which had been turned into a political hoax, he said, by the Democrats.
In fact, on February 27th, just over a month ago, he said this:
DJT: When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.
MH: Now he says 100,000 American deaths wouldn’t just be fine with him, they’d actually be evidence of his success. His success!
DJT: You’re talking about 2.2 million deaths, 2.2 million people from this. And so, if we can hold that down, as we’re saying, to 100,000 — that’s a horrible number — maybe even less, but to 100,000, so we have between 100 and 200,000, we all together have done a very good job.
MH: A very good job! Kill me now. Even Dr. Antony Fauci, his top scientific expert on the coronavirus, even he kinda semi-admitted at the briefing on Tuesday that fewer Americans might be dead right now if Trump had taken things seriously back in January and done the testing that was needed:
Jim Acosta: What would the models have looked like that Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci shows if we had started the social distancing guidelines sooner in February or January? I don’t mean to put you on the spot.
Deborah Birx: Yeah, we understand that we can’t answer until we see that —
JA: If we had started this sooner, we might not have 100,000 to 200,000 Americans dying.
Anthony Fauci: If there was no virus in the background, there was nothing to mitigate. If there was virus there that we didn’t know about, then the answer to your question is probably yes.
MH: Fauci later said he was worried about that answer of his being taken out of context — but of course he’s also clearly worried about being fired by President Trump!
Look: You have a narcissistic, egomaniacal, megalomaniacal, amoral, compassion-free, soulless, self-obsessed pretend-president, who from the very beginning put his own personal and political interests above the welfare of the nation he’s supposed to be leading; over and above protecting American lives as his job description demands.
I mean, just listen to Trump, he says it all out in the open. He says the quiet part loud. Why didn’t he want to let sick Americans off of the Grand Princess cruise ship?
DJT: Because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.
MH: Why didn’t he get urgent resources — masks, gowns, ventilators — to the governors of struggling states like Washington and Michigan?
DJT: I say, Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens.
Reporter: The governor of Washington?
DJT: You know what I say, if they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.
MH: He’s literally letting Americans die, because of his ego and especially Americans, by the way, in blue states, in states that didn’t vote for him. It’s beyond sociopathic.
And of course he has form on this, Trump has a track record of letting Americans in places he doesn’t care about die. Remember Puerto Rico, 3,000 Americans dead because of his incompetence and ignorance:
DJT: The response and recovery effort probably has never been seen for something like this. This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.
MH: And because of comments like this:
DJT: I hate to tell you Puerto Rico but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack because we’ve spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico.
MH: And because he tried to divert essential humanitarian aid money away from Puerto Rico and towards red states like Texas and Florida instead. When it comes to the coronavirus, he’s doing it all again just on a nationwide level. Florida gets all the supplies it needs, New York doesn’t. And just a few days ago, he was even suggesting that nurses in New York were stealing all the face masks from the hospitals!
DJT: Something’s going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the backdoor?
MH: So it’s clear there is a moral and political case against this president’s deliberate and shameful and cruel mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis, but could you, could you, make a legal case, a criminal case, against this behavior? Because no one with a brain, with two eyes and two ears could deny the evidence in front of us that Trump has been negligent in terms of his response to this pandemic – the question I want to ask is has he been criminally negligent and should he, could he, be punished for that negligence?
MH: My guest today is a very senior lawyer who says he very well could be. And he’s someone who’s a bit of an expert too in this particular field. Glenn Kirschner is a former federal prosecutor with three decades of trial experience. He served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for 24 years, rising to the position of Chief of the Homicide Section, in which capacity he prosecuted more than 50 murder trials, and oversaw all homicide grand jury investigations and prosecutions in Washington, D.C.
He’s now retired, he teaches, and he’s a regular commentator on cable news. And he joins me now.
Glenn, thanks for coming on Deconstructed.
GK: Thanks for having me, Mehdi.
MH: You attracted a lot of right wing attention and hate a couple of weeks ago when you did a Twitter thread, which began and I quote, “Can we talk about one of the few topics I may actually know too much about homicide, specifically, whether Donald Trump may have criminal exposure for some level of negligent homicide or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter for the way he’s mishandled the coronavirus crisis?” Glenn, walk us through what is a pretty controversial legal argument you seem to be making. And these crimes you mentioned to negligent homicide, voluntary/involuntary manslaughter that may or may not apply to Donald Trump.
GK: Sure, and if you know anything about me, you’ll know that rarely do I claim to know too much about any topic. However, after 30 years as a federal prosecutor first as an army JAG and then as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington D.C. working for the Department of Justice, and then 22 of those 30 years, I handled murder cases in Washington, D.C. in both federal and in local court. So murder is one of those things that I’ve been immersed in for a couple of decades. So let me, I’m not going to talk about first degree premeditated murder or second degree depraved heart murder, or frankly, voluntary manslaughter. I want to talk about the crime that I think squarely fits Donald Trump’s conduct, and is a relatively low level of homicide. It’s involuntary manslaughter.
There are three things, what we call elements —elements is just a fancy word for facts that we have to prove in order to hold somebody accountable for involuntary manslaughter. One, that a person acted in a grossly negligent way or importantly for our purposes, failed to act and that failure was a product of gross negligence and I’ll talk about those two things in a minute. But number one, somebody acted in a grossly negligent way. Number two, their conduct was reasonably likely to involve serious bodily injury or death to another as a product of that grossly negligent act or failure to act. And three, that they thereby caused the death of another.
Now, causation is tricky, because when we think of someone causing the death of another we think about someone firing a gun at someone, someone stabbing another person, someone strangling another person. But, you know, that is not the way the law, criminal law or the law of homicide defines causation. Causation in the law is defined as conduct that is a substantial factor in bringing about the death of another and I think, undeniably Donald Trump’s conduct of lying to the American people and downplaying the risk, giving them information that they then use to make their everyday behavioral decisions that put them in harm’s way that enhanced their chances of contracting this virus. That was a substantial factor in infecting and ultimately killing people.
So, and let me talk a little bit for a minute about how he also failed to act and how his failure to act was gross negligence. So this is one of the — and I prosecuted a lot of murder cases in my day. This is one of the unusual circumstances where a perpetrator actually fulfills both theories of liability because he acted in a grossly negligent way and he failed to act and that failure was a product of gross negligence. You only have to prove one or another. He hit the homicide bonanza. He actually committed involuntary manslaughter in both of those ways.
MH: So you also said in your Twitter thread that it’s not an easy question to, you know, make this kind of decision and make this kind of case. And it isn’t clearly, I talked to a couple of other retired federal prosecutors off the record before we came on air. And I put your arguments to them just to get a sense of what others think in your field and they said they sympathize with you. But they were skeptical about the case you’re making one of them said to me, and I quote, “If you’re seriously talking about prosecution, the real issue here will be one of causation. You’d have to line up causation for each individual death you wanted to indict for. There’s no group crime here.” Another told me, “A prosecutor would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump’s action or inaction actually caused someone’s death. And I just don’t see how one could do that here. Maybe there’s a civil suit, but not a criminal prosecution.” What’s your response to both of those criticisms?
GK: That’s the beauty of our criminal justice system. We have people who make these decisions. In the first instance it is the judge as the gatekeeper. Please, if somebody would only give me the opportunity to investigate these deaths in the grand jury to prove that some of them are a product of Donald Trump’s gross negligence, I will ask a grand jury to indict. The grand jury is the first gatekeeper. I predict based on what I have seen in the public reporting alone, even before I begin to dig into family history and medical records, I predict the grand jury would indict. The next gatekeeper is the judge and trust me, Mehdi, if I brought a case. And it was not on sound legal footing, a judge is going to dismiss it.
And I have, you know what? I’ve lost cases before in my 30 years, but I was always fighting for justice for the victims and for the safety of the community. And I fear no loss as long as we think we’re doing the right thing based on the evidence. So the judge will be the next gatekeeper and the final and perhaps the most important gatekeeper, it is that jury of one’s peers, it’s citizens who will sit in judgment of whether Donald Trump acted in a grossly negligent manner. And whether his gross negligence in acting or failing to act was a substantial factor in bringing about deaths. I will take that to a jury seven days a week.
MH: But what about the argument that says, look, it’s beyond reasonable doubt, you know that, you’re former criminal prosecutor, maybe there’s a civil suit here, but not a criminal prosecution? Because how do you link Trump beyond reasonable doubt, to an individual death and you can’t do it to a group of people. It has to be each and every person as you said digging into their circumstances and records?
GK: Sure, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was a substantial factor not that it was —
MH: The only factor.
GK: The cause, the main cause, but it was just a substantial factor. Let me use an analogy. So people may be familiar with the horrific Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California in 2016. Two guys owned and operated a converted warehouse. They turned it into an artist’s space where the artists could work. They could display their artwork. Some of them were sleeping there. But it was in pretty horrible shape. It didn’t meet any safety codes. And as a result, the fire started. So that fire resulted in 36, I believe, or maybe 39 people dying in the fire.
Now, the fire was not a product of arson. The owners of the Ghost Ship warehouse did nothing to personally kill those people. They didn’t start the fire. They didn’t close the doors so that they couldn’t flee the flames. However, their conduct of having this warehouse in a condition where it was putting people at risk was a substantial factor in bringing about the death. They were, I think, indicted for 36 or 39 counts of involuntary manslaughter. It’s a similar principle where Trump has let this virus run roughshod not unlike a fire running through a rickety warehouse, run roughshod through our country. And you also have examples of his corrupt intent, of his motive because he has said things publicly.
MH: He has said on the record, you know, I don’t want these tests to be done, because I like the numbers where they are.
GK: Exactly, I want my numbers to stay low. He has said don’t return the phone calls of the governors of Washington and Michigan. They’re not being sufficiently nice to us. There’s a lot to unravel. And that’s what criminal investigations are for. But if we don’t at least take the first step on the road to investigate what I believe is criminal conduct then we are lost.
MH: Is there any precedent for something like this Glenn, that you know of in U.S. presidential history or even at lower levels of government, state or municipal levels where elected officials are held to account criminally in this way?
GK: Yeah, I can’t speak to every jurisdiction. I will say, let’s assume there is certainly no precedent to try a criminal president for these kind of crimes once he leaves office. We know we can’t do it while he’s in office because of this horrific Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memo that says you cannot indict a sitting president, a criminal president, even if he shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue. That’s a position that was expressly taken by Department of Justice lawyers in a Second Circuit Court of Appeals argument. But let’s assume there’s no precedent, the only way we make precedent Mehdi is by doing something the first time by taking a maiden voyage. If we were always required to wait to prosecute a novel case until there was precedent, guess what? We would never prosecute a novel case. That only makes sense, right?
MH: And if anyone is a novel case, it’s Donald J. Trump. And what about this distinction between state and federal law? That these crimes would be state crimes, and therefore he’s more susceptible to it. Is that what you believe?
GK: Yeah, I actually think he will see charges brought and civil suits brought frankly not only federally but in each jurisdiction in which people have died as a result of his gross negligence. So every state has its own state law defining things like involuntary manslaughter and some jurisdictions call it negligent homicide. There are slightly different elements and every jurisdiction defines it in its own way.
Here’s what will happen when state charges are brought against him — and I predict they will be when he leaves office — they will make a modified Supremacy Clause argument. They’ll say, even though the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution doesn’t directly apply, they will say, “Listen, this is a federal matter and a former president cannot be made to stand up as a defendant in 50 states and defend himself in all of these criminal cases.” So there will be a modified Supremacy Clause argument made. I can’t predict how each state jurisdiction will resolve that issue. But I have a feeling that he has got a lot of criminal legal exposure coming at him beginning in January 2021.
MH: So, I’ll come back to that in a moment. Just in terms of the actual, we talked about precedence one slightly different though related precedent that I just came across from last week, Glenn, was the utility company PG&E, which just accepted criminal responsibility for starting the deadliest wildfire in California’s history, the Camp fire of 2018, which killed 85 people. But though the company pled guilty to manslaughter, none of the executives were prosecuted or jailed for that crime. PG&E just agreed to pay a 3.5 million dollar penalty, which is the statutory maximum. Isn’t that the problem that you can go after a corporation, individuals on this on these crimes, you mentioned, much tougher?
GK: Much tougher indeed, especially when there is collective criminal action by, for example, a board of directors. And let me tell you, Mehdi, I’ve been in the federal government long enough, a little over 30 years, the federal government is often looking to recover money. Even if they could sort of if they wanted to stretch their criminal law muscles, they could try to put some of these white collar corporate wrongdoers in prison, or narrowly they let them get away with a little something as long as they’re willing to fill the government’s coffers with money and that is a sad fact of our criminal justice system. But I think you have a point person in this instance and it is Donald Trump. So I do think that the criminal justice systems plural need to focus like a laser beam on him once he leaves office.
MH: So you have the point person Donald J. Trump, Republican President of the United States. So there’s a big partisan angle, Glenn. What would you say to critics who say once you open this very controversial, unprecedented legal door, it’ll be used against other presidents by Republicans against Democrats?
MH: They’ll say Barack Obama should have been prosecuted for U.S. deaths in Benghazi or Eric Holder, then Attorney General for the deaths that resulted from the fast and furious gun walking scandal in Arizona and beyond. A future Democratic president who presides over natural disasters, he’ll get prosecuted too.
GK: So yes, there is something called victor’s justice. And that’s a pejorative term, right? It just, loosely defined, means when the party that comes into power prosecutes the party that has lost power just for the sheer revenge value for the partisan value of it. It’s not victor’s justice if you have crimes being committed, that the party in power is unwilling to address while they are in power.
Here’s an example that I’ve used before. Let’s assume that somebody commits a bank robbery. That is a federal offense. So let’s assume that the person who commits bank robbery is a really good friend and a high-dollar donor of Donald Trump. So Bill Barr, the sitting Attorney General, being Donald Trump’s protector says I am not authorizing federal charges to be brought against that bank robber because he’s a high-dollar donor of Donald Trump’s. Would it be improper for the next administration to prosecute that bank robber when he is no longer being protected by Bill Barr?
That’s not revenge. That’s not partisanship or victor’s justice, it’s just plain old justice. It’s doing the right thing. And we can’t decline to do the right thing for fear of how the wrong people will criticize us for it.
MH: But you would accept that a Democratic president who presided over a natural disaster in a similar way could be prosecuted?
GK: If crimes are committed while a Democratic president or a Republican president are in office, and the party in power refuses to address it in a timely manner. That doesn’t mean you give the president or the ex-president a pass once power changes hands because that is how we went from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump and God help us if we don’t wrestle Donald Trump’s criminality to the ground and hold people accountable because we’re going to get something 10 times worse than Donald Trump next time.
MH: And you mentioned Trump’s criminality. You’ve also talked in the past about prosecuting Trump for all his other crimes committed in office once he leaves office because as you say, there’s this horrific DOJ guidance that says you can’t indict a sitting president. You’ve talked about a Trump Crimes Commission that should be set up in January 2021 if he’s out of office then. How would that commission even work? And what other crimes are you referring to? Because I know we’ve discussed a few of them on this show over the past couple of years.
GK: Sure. I mean, first of all, you have to set it up to the extent you can find non-partisan people, people who are hopeful — I know, hopefully, retired prosecutors, retired FBI agents. I mean, we have so many great law enforcement agencies to draw from, former you know, FBI, ATF, DEA, Park Police, Capitol Police, Secret Service Uniformed Division, you know, it goes on and on and on. The crimes that have been committed that I see kind of hiding in plain sight: you’ve got conspiracy to defraud the U.S. You’ve got obstructing justice. You’ve got obstructing Congress. These are all separate statutory crimes. I can rattle off the numbers but it probably wouldn’t be all that interesting or helpful.
You’ve got tampering with a witness. We saw a tweet in real time while Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was testifying, he was tweeting and let me tell you as a career prosecutor, when you’re tweeting and you’re trying to chill the ongoing testimony of a witness, it is tampering with a witness under 18 USC 1512. There’s no two ways about it. He bribed President Zelensky. He committed campaign finance violations with Michael Cohen. He made false statements to the FBI as part of the Mueller probe. He has been an accessory after the fact to, of all people, Vladimir Putin by standing up in Helsinki and giving him aid and comfort. That is the crime of accessory after the fact under 18 USC, Section Three, and I could go on but we probably don’t have enough time.
MH: Yeah, there’s so many things to do with kind of trying to extort Amazon and using the U.S. Postal Service against them and also many campaign finance violations, Stormy Daniels. We know there is a long list that we’ve discussed on this show before. One thing I would say is that you said earlier in the interview that you’re optimistic that on this crime, this alleged crime of negligent homicide, that he could face some kind of indictment, charges from the states, from different jurisdictions. I’m not so optimistic myself. For a start, you mentioned the Trump Crimes Commission and drawing from the FBI. Come on, Glenn, Robert Mueller was a Republican former head of the FBI and they didn’t take him seriously. They discredited and demonized him very quickly and have never ever taken anything he said, seriously. So I’m not sure that you can find the people that anyone’s going to take seriously on the Republican side.
And then I think the Democrats just don’t have the backbone for this. Because right now you’re talking about, you know, the extreme position of prosecuting Trump for a crime. Meanwhile, Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, aides of his are briefing journalists that they don’t think this is the right time to even criticize Trump, to attack him. They think the country needs to get behind the president. I mean, I just think it’s mad right now that you know, here you are making a very good case for why he could be criminally responsible for Americans dying and yet members of the opposition party aren’t saying anything even close to that.
GK: Yeah, I share your skepticism and your pessimism. And I hope that my optimism doesn’t become Pollyanna-ism. There’s a lot of isms going on there. When you look at the Mueller report, it is expressly a blueprint for future prosecutions. Now, we had one sort of quasi-prosecution which was the Senate impeachment trial, which was not based on the evidence. That was based on politics. But you know, it is a blueprint for a future prosecution for the many counts of obstruction of justice that are documented in volume two of Mueller’s report. Now, we all have yet to see the full unredacted Mueller report.
But we are one giant step closer to that because in recent days, Judge Reggie Walton who was a lion of the federal district court here in Washington D.C. now has a copy of the unredacted Mueller report that he figuratively had to wrestle out of Bill Barr’s hands after publishing an opinion that said, and I quote, “Bill Barr lacks candor, and he tried to spin the findings and conclusions of the Mueller report, and he dubiously handled the release of the Mueller report and he has been directly contradicted by the Mueller report.”
It was a scathing legal opinion authored by Judge Reggie Walton. He now has the unredacted Mueller report and he is making decisions about what should be released to we the people. It’s a FOIA suit. It will first be released, BuzzFeed and EPIC, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and then hopefully we the people will see what’s under all of those redactions, those black bars in the Mueller report. That will have evidence that can be used come January 2022 to investigate and if the evidence supports it, prosecute Donald Trump.
MH: Just before we finish, Glenn, you upset a lot of people when you tweeted out about Trump and negligent homicide by daring to link the president to such a serious crime. I believe you even got death threats from MAGA people, from Trump supporters online. Were you surprised by that? Does it bother you?
GK: OK, was I surprised by it? You know, I was somewhat surprised because I have tweeted out that he’s committed lots and lots and lots of crimes. And nobody seemed to be all that bothered by it. But when I had the temerity to suggest that his conduct actually fulfills the elements, the legal elements of involuntary manslaughter, I got a whole bunch of death threats. Now, I was followed by an actual hitman when I was trying RICO cases in the District of Columbia so you know, bring it on my friends. But yes, I was a little surprised that they seemed to sit up and take note and be offended by that, whereas they weren’t offended by the fact that he had obstructed justice, obstructed Congress, engaged in campaign finance violations, bribery of President Zelensky etc. I’m not sure why I offended the MAGA sensibilities saying that he also has committed involuntary manslaughter.
MH: I love by the way, I love the irony of people saying “How dare you accuse my president of trying to kill people? I’m gonna kill you for saying that.” But anyways, let’s not try and reason too much with the irrational.
GK: Yes, yes, the irony is lost on some people.
MH: Glenn, thanks so much for boldly making the case and do stay safe in these crazy times. Thanks for coming on Deconstructed.
GK: Thank you, Mehdi. I appreciate it.
MH: That was Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor in Washington D.C., former head of the D.C. homicide section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, making the case that Trump can be criminally prosecuted for coronavirus-related deaths in the United States. Do you agree with him? I do, but I’m no lawyer and I have no faith in the Democrats or in prosecutors to make the case for his prosecution come January 2021 — assuming he’s even out of power then, and with Joe Biden as his opponent, there’s a very good chance he could get re-elected for a second term. God help us all.
The thing is, whether we’re lawyers or not, I think we can all agree that at some point Trump needs to be held to account for his many crimes and abuses of power, in some shape or form, especially now when people are dying as a result of his clear negligence, whether it’s criminal or not. I hope and pray that the death toll doesn’t hit the quarter of a million mark that the White House was suggesting it might earlier this week, though even tens of thousands of deaths are crazy excessive, hugely tragic and many of them could have been avoided.
So, we all need to do our part, at least, stay indoors, do social distancing, wash your hands, help flatten the curve. Good luck.
MH: That’s our show. We’ll be taking a break next week but will be back in two weeks time.
Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. Our producer is Zach Young. The show was mixed by Bryan Pugh. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.
And I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. Go to theintercept.com/deconstructed to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever it is. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review – it helps new people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Podcasts@theintercept.com. Thanks so much for listening. See you back here in a couple of weeks.