When The Best Is Not Good Enough: Scarborough Recounts Clearly Bad Advice On Suing Trump

NBC News

I have long-criticized President Donald Trump for his tweets suggestions that MSNBC Joe Scarborough murdered a former aide when he was a Republican congressman two decades ago and suggested on Twitter that the two had an “affair.” The tweets are cruel for the family of Lori Klausutis but make scurrilous unproven allegations against Scarborough. Scarborough is saying that he may now sue Trump for defamation. The problem remains that Scarborough is a public figure and, as such, is subject to a high burden for defamation.  What is most striking however is what Scarborough said his lawyers told him about suing earlier.  The “best lawyer in New York” and the “best lawyer in New York” told him that he could not sue a sitting president. That is clearly untrue.

Despite many of us roundly condemning his use of this tragedy, the president returned repeatedly to the subject.  He called again for an investigation in “Psycho Joe Scarborough.” He asked “So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator?” He also questioned the findings of the autopsy and suggested that Scarborough left Congress mysteriously after the death: “A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida…and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!”

The problem is that this can be defended as an opinion and thus protected under constitutional and tort cases.  Moreover, as a public figure, Scarborough is subject to the standard under New York Times v. Sullivan, requiring a showing of actual malice — defined as knowing falsity or a reckless disregard that the story was untrue. It is a standard that was designed to be difficult to satisfy.  However, that obvious problem does not appear to be the problem raised by Scarborough’s lawyers.

Scarborough said:

“I called lawyers after about the tenth time he accused me of murder … I get the best lawyer in New York, the best lawyer in DC who was supposed to be the best for handling these sort of defamation cases and they said, well you can’t sue the president because he’s the president and he’s got immunity, which I disagree with.” 

There was a good reason to disagree. It is not true that “you can’t sue the president because he’s the president and he’s got immunity.” There is no such immunity from civil lawsuits. Moreover, this poor advice could have a serious consequence for the client. Defamation has a short statute of limitations of one or two years. You can lose the right to sue.  If you sue, you toll the statute of limitations even if a court puts the case on a delayed schedule.

If this is untrue, Scarborough is either defaming his lawyers or he needs somene other than “the best.”

There is an ongoing debate over whether a sitting president can be criminally indicted in office. I have long argued that a sitting president can be indicted, but some (including the Justice Department) disagree. Nevertheless, a president can clearly be sued civilly. Just ask Bill Clinton.  In Clinton v. Jones, a unanimous court rejected such a claim of immunity. Justice John Paul Stevens rejected such arguments and held that

“[t]his reasoning provides no support for an immunity for unofficial conduct. As we explained in Fitzgerald, “the sphere of protected action must be related closely to the immunity’s justifying purposes.” Id., at 755. Because of the President’s broad responsibilities, we recognized in that case an immunity from damages claims arising out of official acts extending to the “outer perimeter of his authority.” Id., at 757. But we have never suggested that the President, or any other official, has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity.”

Moreover, Trump was sued in dozens of cases. Strangely, Scarborough covered those lawsuits on his show. Didn’t he think it was odd that he could not sue but a lot of people seemed to be able to do so?  There was no immunity in these cases so why would Scarborough believe any lawyer — even the “best” lawyer — in saying that he does?

Of course, the “best” lawyers in New York and Washington may be like the world’s best coffee:


22 thoughts on “When The Best Is Not Good Enough: Scarborough Recounts Clearly Bad Advice On Suing Trump”

  1. Just like veteran’s day TURLEY could not bother to post anything related to MLK.

    Shame on you TURLEY peace and non violence not your thang!

    1. Aninny:

      “Just like veteran’s day TURLEY could not bother to post anything related to MLK.

      Shame on you TURLEY peace and non violence not your thang!”


      Should he lead with the plagiarism, womanizing or the rape enabling allegation? Or do you want a cheerleading exercise? My guess is the latter.

      Surprise from Lord Acton: “Great men are almost always bad men.”


  2. I have long been amused that (pre-covid) Mika and Joe would be shown split-screen with different green-screen backgrounds. They were in reality sitting next to each other in the same studio. A visual lack of candor?

  3. Illiterate Scarredburrowed didn’t read the fine print of the Presidential Oath. ‘to the best of my ability.’ How are the comrades of the far left going to prove that is not true. They can’t unless they resort to straight out as usual lying. ScarredBurrow does things to the best of his ability and is never successful. And still gets paid for it.

  4. “The tweets are cruel for the family of Lori Klausutis but make scurrilous unproven allegations against Scarborough. ”

    Seems to me Prof Turley often walks with one foot hanging over that cliff of scurrilous allegations of team Trump/Trump Voters.

    Maybe if Prof Turley can stop choking on hate Trump & he can get back to addressing the complete Collapse of this Republic, the in your face an est. 20 million pro Trump voters that are now disenfranchised. And further that the SC’s refusal to grant states, citizens, no one standing to have evidence heard in courts for regress of grievances.

    1. President Donald ShitForBrains has done everything in his power to merit the hate of every decent American, don’t try to deny him his due.

      1. There’s likely 250 million “US Citizens” that are supporter of Trumps pro American positions including LEO, the Military & the approx 100 million actually voted for Trump & a good chunk of his policies.

        So it’s very understandably why the American hating, Commie, Satan worshipping Pedo Biden people are so afraid of them they planted their antifa/BLM terrorist in the Capital to cause trouble Jan 6.

        Surly everyone’s seen the many videos/audio of those Commie/Nazi aholes & a few Qturds run out of the Deep State Jan 6.

        China & American’s Enemies are Laughing their azzes off right now at you Biden/Dim/Rino supporting Idiots as you’ve sold out to them. LOL.

        Be Proud of this 3rd World Sh*t Hole you people are building.

        “Papers Please with your Vaccine Travel Passport”

        1. Trumps approval rating is about 34% now. In a country of 330 million where 25% are children, that would mean he’s got about 84 million adults who still support his antics.

          His disapproval is 61% meaning over 150 million adults take serious issue with him and his actions.

          For comparison Obama left with a 59% approval rating and we haven’t seen a lower exit approval rating since Nixon. So if appeal to popularity is your thing, it too comes up short: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_approval_rating#Historical_comparison

          1. wikipedia, NYT,WAPO, CNN, MSNBC, etc., all propaganda trash & yet many still choose not to do any of their own research looking for the truth. IE: Trump’s own recorded word just before & on his Jan 6 speech, the actual videos of the massive crowd (Approx 1 to 1.2 million showed up in that cold/windy day) of supporters that showed up vs the propaganda politicians, their old lying media &” their agiaprop/Operation;The Trust, & a handful of Qturd fools like the lady shot/killed urged forward by now known antifa/BLM/CNN/Dim/Rino ring leaders (100-150 rioting on site Jan 6).

            BTW: You remind LOL, go back & look at Georgia’s Nov 3, 2020 election results of just how many were underage children that are caught illegally voting just in one state’s results.

            Anyway you people can just keep lying to yourselves about reality.

            1. “Underage children”?


              “ The Trump campaign claims that some 66,000 underage people voted during the 2020 general election. The state says the actual number of underage voters was zero.

              “There were four people who requested a ballot before they turned 18,” Secretary of State counsel Ryan Germany told the state House Government Affairs Committee on Wednesday. “And they all turned 18 prior to November 3 — which means they’re allowed to vote.”

              According to Germany, the Trump campaign complained that 2,423 unregistered people were allowed to vote. He said the actual number was zero.

              Germany said that the Trump campaign complained that 30,000 people voted in Georgia and another state. Investigators have only found three such voters.”

              But I suppose you prefer to trust the guy saying every election he lost was stolen because the other person cheated since Cruz beat him 5 years ago in the Iowa Caucus.

                1. Speaking of known liars, how about the guy who sharpies on a hurricane map then claims he got it from an official source?

                  Anyway https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2020/12/17/white-house-advisor-peter-navarro-releases-dubious-voter-fraud-report/

                  Looking at the report which cites reference 17 in the bibliography as the source for those figures, following 17 to see it’s just the case Trump and friends filed in Georgia, then looking for those numbers which points to exhibit 3, I see exhibit 3 is a spreadsheet which says it is based on a sample of census data and clearly not precise. They didn’t present this in court and got thrown out because it’s not been reviewed or gone over with a fine tooth comb. It’s just some BS the guy threw together to please his boss, Trump, who’s said every election was stolen from him since Cruz beat him in the Iowa primary February, 2016.

                  Don’t feel bad, Trump is a known con-man and that’s what he’s been doing since long before the Trump University days. You got bamboozled is all.

                  1. “Don’t feel bad, Trump is a known con-man and that’s what he’s been doing since long before the Trump University days. You got bamboozled is all.”

                    You should get out of the Matrix more often & have a look around at the real world.

                    Maybe you could get down to Guatamala & join up with the 1st post Trump human wave of the millions of foreign invaders Biden/Globalist Commie/Fascist Scum has heading our way.

                    Hell, if your lucky maybe you and your family will meet another of the Dim/Rino Riot Mobs known as M13

                    Enjoy your servitude Slaves!

                    Oh, & make sure whatever you do to you get your Bill Gates/Dr Fauci Vaccines.

                    1. It wasn’t even 2500 and they got dissolved in Guatemala and sent back. For all your fear mongering you’d think you’d do a little more research on the numbers: https://www.factcheck.org/2018/06/illegal-immigration-statistics/

                      Most undocumented immigrants are visa overstays. MS-13 numbers aren’t growing here. And most of their victims are other Central American immigrants. It’s normal to claim everyone else is in the Matrix when you’ve joined Jim Jones cult.

  5. Trump shouldn’t be trolling people in this way. Lori Klausutis and one other woman worked in a satellite office in Fort Walton Beach, Fl (the main office being in Pensacola). There were a couple of layers of supervision between him and her and it’s a reasonable wager that he only knew her by name. (Btw, he’d already resigned from Congress at the time she died; his 1st marriage had been dissolved a couple of years earlier). The problem with that case is that the coroner who attested her death was due to natural causes was later revealed to be a fraudster, so all of his rulings are somewhat suspect. Still, you going to suspect foul play, the first person you go to isn’t her boss’s boss’s boss, it’s her husband.

    Scarborough’s on his 3d marriage, and his current wife was previously married to someone else who is the father of her children. I doubt he’s anxious to go through discovery.

  6. Is professor Turley upset that he wasn’t regarded by Joe as the ‘best’ attorney in DC?

  7. Jumping Don has up and gone away!
    Way hey hey!
    Here’s to you Mrs. Scarborough…
    You’re husband is a dirty dog!
    Flirty hog!

Comments are closed.