What crimes could the president get away with if he wanted

I don’t mean secret crimes like secret killings or secret drug smuggling (although i’d assume he/she would have no problems doing that). Assume the president wants to start breaking the law all the time, is he able to do that w/o repercussions? Can the president have his attorney general threaten/fire every judge and police officer that tries to stop him from breaking the law? Can the president walk down the street shooting at civilians, then fire anyone who tries to put a stop to it. If he is arrested can he pardon himself? If not I assume he can always find a VP who will pardon him, i.e. if he becomes a center of too many investigations he’d just quit the presidency and have his VP turned president pardon him of everything.

I assume if he did this the senate or house would have no problem getting the 2/3 majority necessary to put a stop to it though. What if the president starts threatening senators and house members. What if he hires assassins and if they are caught he pardons them and lets them kill again, preventing any legislation from being passed in the house or senate putting a stop to this. Can he get away with that?

In the scenario described, the president would have to have a lot of popular support. Remember that Congress and the Supreme Court each have their own police forces that are not under presidential control. They could probably keep the bad guys at bay until the president could be impeached. Which I bet Congress could do really fast if they felt that they were going to get killed.

Then there would be a Constitutional crisis because I don’t know who’s going to tell a homicidal maniac that he can’t be president anymore.

There have been lots and lots of threads about whether or not the president can pardon himself. They were popular during the Clinton impreachment trial.

What if he creates a squad of assassins and everytime a judge, police officer, prosecutor, senator or house member tries to stop him he has them killed. If the assassin is caught he just pardons them. What is to stop him from spending the rest of his presidency doing that.

That’s a lot of assassins to hire. Where is he getting the money to pay them?

Sounds like the mafia to me.

Murder and attempted murder are state crimes. The President has no legal authority to pardon state offenses - only federal offenses.

Murdering a judge or senator would be a federal offense, however.

But if he murders them on federal property, like say in the Rotunda, it’s a federal crime. Thus pardonable.

And you wonder why we have a national debt? It’s to pay the assassins!

Who would stop him? He’d have them murdered. :slight_smile:

What if they took the person over a state line and did it.

I’m interested in the police force the Congress and Supreme Court have. I know that the SC’s police, from a google search, has 100 members now since 9/11. What powers do they have immune from the president? Or is it not that interesting?

I’m a political dud, but even I know that while on his way to vote a Senator can technically commit crimes (rob a liquor store, mug someone) and cannot be arrested until after he votes. This doesn’t pertain to the OP very much :wink:

If the President starting a murder spree, he would most certainly be arrested. There’s nothing in the Constitution that gives the President immunity from arrest. I would also question whether the President would have the authority to fire someone so that the laws of the country would NOT be executed. (Under the whole “subordinates need not follow illegal orders” doctrine.)

Most likely, the Cabinet would vote to declare the President incompetent under the 25th Amendment, and once removed from power, he’d be impeached, convicted, and prosecuted.

No, the Constitution says that Congressmen shall not be arrested on their way to and from official business “except in cases of felony, treason, and breach of the peace.” That is intended to mean freedom from arbitrary arrest at the whim of the executive branch, and in practical terms means no speeding tickets, but certainly not assault or robbery.

The Supreme Court and Congress both have their own police forces to ensure the separation of powers. If the Supreme Court had to relly on the Secret Service or FBI, both of which are answerable to the President, then the justices could be harassed on their way to office.

“Hey, I don’t want Souter showing up today. Go arrest him for spitting on the sidewalk.”
“Sure thing, Mr. President.”

I’m sure Congress has a much bigger police force.

[url=“http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.amendmentxxv.html”]Ammendment 25, section 4:

I would assume that if the President were to go on a murdering spree, that the VP and Cabinet officers (assuming that they’re not in on it) would take that as evidence that the President is not fit to discharge his duties, and would have him removed from office.

If one starts asking “what if the Pres kills the Veep and Secretaries, too?”, then I think that we’re moving into territory where the fact that the guy is President is irrelevant. After all, suppose I stock up a lot of firepower, go on a killing spree, and kill anyone who tries to stop me? One doesn’t need any particular office to attempt this, and no office is going to be able to ensure you could get away with it.


when Clinton was governor he was one of the last people caught in an infamous speed trap between Jonesboro and Memphis. Apparently he had some strings to pull and the tiny city (whose name escapes) turned thyeir trap down a notch or two (for several years anyway).

You are assuming his subordinates would agree to break the law as well. If a order is unlawful from the start, how would the president have it carried out if the subordinates refuse an unlawful order?

Special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Jr. insisted on listening to the tapes, so Nixon fired him. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both quit rather than carry out Nixon’s orders, but Solicitor General Robert Bork carried out the orders.

This Saturday Night Massacre was very significant in leading to Nixon being impeached.

If the new President pardoned the former President from something as blatant as a killing spree, that would probably be regarded as sufficient grounds to impeach him.

Many documents have to be submitted to the Secretary of State in order to take effect. Does this include presidential pardons? If so, the SoS could refuse to accept the pardons. The courts might eventually rule that the refusal was invalid, but the delay would give Congress enough time to take action and take the President and his death squads into custody.

Well, murdering a federal judge or senator for reasons relating to the performance of his job is certainly a federal offense, yes… but it doesn’t erase the state offense. That is, the murder is still a state offense, and, in addition, federal charges lie. The President could pardon the federal offenses, but the state charges would remain.