What happens when the President of the United States asks for a bribe?
I know what you’re thinking: what could possibly have inspired this topic? I’m not here to throw partisan stones or to take sides on the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry, though publicly available information is pretty damning. Instead, I want to look at what we know now—and what we might know in the future—through the lens of the federal criminal law governing bribery.
I want to briefly explain four things:
- What the bribery statute says
- Why the facts about Ukraine-gate potentially implicate the solicitation—but not the offering—of a bribe by the President
- Whether the bribery statute applies to the President
- What legal defenses the President may have if he’s ultimately prosecuted