He likes money, right?
December 15, 2016 5:21 PM   Subscribe

I want to crowdfund a scheme to monetarily reward Donald Trump in exchange for a swift resignation. Is that legal?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 to Law & Government (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's illegal to bribe a federal official; what you're proposing is bribery. I know that in light of the actions Mr. Trump has taken and proposed taking, you may be tempted to say "but obviously we've seen that legality is slippery," and maybe you're right - but your question is, is it legal. It's bribery, and that's illegal.

I am not a lawyer, I am only an increasingly despondent American citizen.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:41 PM on December 15, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also not a lawyer...

It seems to me like it might be legal. Bribery is paying a public official to influence their actions in respect to their duties of office. Instead you'd be paying them to step down from that office in which case those duties would be assumed by someone else.
posted by duoshao at 6:02 PM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

"I want to do X, is it legal" is the purest form of a question that needs to be posed to an attorney, especially where it represents something you intend to do that involves huge sums of money. If you can't afford an attorney, you don't have the logistical resources necessary to pull off something of this scale, completely agnostic to what the plan might be, because this is only the tip of the iceberg of the legal questions that a multimillion-dollar crowdfunding campaign could entail... many of which need to be answered before those funds are going to wind up in your bank account.
posted by Sequence at 6:10 PM on December 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

When you talk to a lawyer, one thing you should probably bring up is the potential sources of money: So in theory, you would be the one paying him to step down. BUT you're getting the money from other people. One could view this as all those people paying him to step down, with you acting as broker. If you view it that way then a problem arises: What is the legality of the inevitable fact that many of the people giving you money would likely not be American and/or would not be living in the US? Lawyer.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:35 PM on December 15, 2016

for what it's worth, people have considered how to do this kind of thing even if it's not legal. most notably, jim bell.
posted by andrewcooke at 7:27 PM on December 15, 2016

I am not offering legal advice, but underneath the layers of this question is a simple principle that is the single point of failure: if once you have paid him the Dane-geld / You never get rid of the Dane.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:28 PM on December 15, 2016 [13 favorites]

Even if it is legal, it's probably not likely to succeed. Trump is a rich guy; you'd need to raise a shitload of money for him to care. $20 million (the most raised on Kickstarter) isn't going to do it. The increase in value to his brand from the presidency is worth at least 10x (and probably even more) that.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:41 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Of questionable legality, and quite silly to boot.
posted by bentpyramid at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

You'd be way better off organizing politically to help Warren put through her bill updating the Emoluments Clause. Force him to choose between his existing investments and the Presidency rather than trying to bribe him with a tiny fraction of the money.
posted by instamatic at 11:05 AM on December 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's illegal to bribe a federal official...

Which he isn't yet.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:34 PM on December 16, 2016

Federal bribery law is pretty clear that it doesn't matter whether the person has yet taken office. From the statue:

The term “person who has been selected to be a public official” means any person who has been nominated or appointed to be a public official, or has been officially informed that such person will be so nominated or appointed.

It turns out there is actually precedent for this, in the case of Phillip Puckett

This article indicates that it seems to be a legal grey area, but probably not illegal:

The question for Puckett and Kilgore and those investigating the arrangement, experts said, is this: Is resigning one’s office an “official act”?

“It’s a stretch, because I think it’s more of an abdication than an act,” said Andrew T. Wise, a defense lawyer at Miller & Chevalier who represented a lobbyist connected to Jack Abramoff. “I would hate to be the line prosecutor trying to sell this to my supervisor.”

But such a prosecution is not impossible, Wise said. Say, for example, a state legislator took $5,000 to abstain from voting on a matter when his or her vote would have broken the tie. Would that constitute honest services fraud, and is that so different from Puckett’s conduct?

“You could cobble together an argument,” Wise said.

Edward T. Kang, a former federal prosecutor now at the Alston & Bird firm, said it is likely that agents are looking for evidence of “official acts.” As to whether the resignation itself could be the official act, Kang said, “That would be novel. I’ve definitely never heard of anything like that.”

posted by phoenixy at 9:15 PM on December 16, 2016

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