Nothing, to Trump. Much, perhaps, to others. Highly speculative answers to highly speculative questions. The shallow, historically uniformed intellectualism of the popular press never ceases to disappoint. In furtherance of the “Russia, Russia, Russia” mania, Joy Reid and the panel of “experts” at MSNBC ponder the ridiculously improbable:
Sunday on her weekend morning program, MSNBC’s Joy Reid seriously discussed a situation where President Trump refused a subpoena and would have to be arrested and put in jail until he testified before a grand jury. Reid envisioned a scenario of a White House besieged by federal marshals who would wait for Trump to give the Secret Service a stand down order so he could be taken into custody.
“Let’s say that Donald Trump decides he doesn’t want to give an interview with Mueller, but Mueller says ‘Oh, but you will.’ And he’s subpoenaed to [be] interview[ed] [by] Robert Mueller. And Donald Trump simply says, ‘I don’t recognize that subpoena.’ This is a president whose behavior is different as president of the United States. He doesn’t follow convention. Who would force him to comply with the subpoena ordering him to do an interview with Robert Mueller?” Reid asked.
“It would be a federal court judge,” former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman said.
“How would they enforce it?” she asked.
They wouldn’t. It’s as simple as that. It’s settled “legal” territory. See: Ex parte Merryman (1861) and associated proceedings.
President Lincoln suspended the right of habeas corpus during the questionable American “civil” war. Said suspension was challenged in federal court. Following a conclusion Lincoln’s suspension was unconstitutional, Lincoln and his army refused to comply with the ruling and with the orders of the judiciary.
A federal marshal informed Chief Justice Roger Taney of the row and requested instruction. Little was decided by the high court other than Taney’s resignment to the fact his marshal and associated posse comitatus were woefully outgunned by Lincoln’s standing army. At the White House it was decided Taney was interfering with the war efforts. Lincoln wrote up an executive warrant for Taney’s arrest. Cooler heads prevailed upon the President and the warrant was never executed.
But, unlike the court’s paper, Lincoln’s could have been, would have been easily affected. Taney narrowly escaped a fate well-known to more a few of his contemporaries. Lincoln arrested plenty of people on similar specious charges, including at least one federal judge and a member of Congress.
Couple this “precedent” with the modern interpretation of “enemy combatant” and one prays cooler heads are still on call around DC.
One could also pray for the grace of knowledge among the popular talking heads. That might be asking a bit much, even from the Almighty.