Below is my column in USA Today on the concern over arguments being advanced in the dozens of personal cases pending against President Donald Trump across the country. As someone who acquired his wealth in the New York real estate market, Trump has been a frequent litigant and is someone who is not deterred by threats of litigation. Indeed, in that market, litigation is treated as an extension of the business and often used in leverage or delay tactics. As President, Trump cannot maintain the same approach to the courts if he has any concern over the position of his office. Much of the privileges surrounding the presidency are not expressly stated in the Constitution. They are, therefore, vulnerable to the curtailment of negative rulings. For that reason, most presidents have avoided court tests and invoke privileges and immunities cautiously. Yet, no president has ever had this massive number of private lawsuits pending upon taking office. With various private lawyers asserting defenses, it raises the danger of unintended and uncoordinated presidential claims being made by largely unknown lawyers. It is like creating constitutional law on contingency or hourly contacts. Private counsel seeks to win these civil cases and are likely less concerned (and certainly less equipped) in dealing with the long-term implications of privilege or immunity arguments. Trump needs to carefully define the scope of advocacy for his local counsel to avoid the first contingency presidency.
Here is the column.