Friday, January 27, 2017

Article 88 and the Speech or Debate Clause

Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D.-CA)
Ted W. Lieu is a Democratic Member of Congress from Los Angeles. He is also an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. In a recent press release he said the following:
*** In addition to losing the popular vote, [Donald J.] Trump — as of January 20, 2017 — is in violation of the Emoluments Clause set forth in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution due to massive conflicts of interests and his refusal to put his global business holdings in blind trusts. Trump also benefitted from Vladimir Putin ordering a multifaceted and brazen Russian influence and cyber hacking campaign with the goals of undermining faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrating Secretary [Hillary] Clinton’s electability, and helping Trump’s election chances. Trump and his press secretary also routinely make stuff up.
This article suggests that Rep. Lieu has violated Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which criminalizes the use of contemptuous words about, among other officials, the President. Truth is not a defense, according to the Manual for Courts-Martial.

Does the press release violate Article 88? If so, does the Speech or Debate Clause extend to a press release posted on a congressional website? If it does not extend to a press release, does the Clause trump Article 88? Comments welcome. (Comments Policy reminder: you must use your own name when commenting. Anonymous comments will not be posted.)

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