A Rolling List of the Times Trump Disregarded the Law

The president’s efforts to get Ukraine and China to go after Joe Biden are just the latest examples of him showing disrespect for the law

Andrea González-Ramírez
GEN
Published in
5 min readSep 24, 2019

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A photo of Donald Trump.
Displayed on a monitor, U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters on September 24, 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump is now facing a House impeachment inquiry over statements revealed by an intelligence agency whistleblower. But it’s hardly the first time his respect for the law has been questioned — including by former senior administration officials.

Those who say Trump told them to do things that break the law or wanted policies undertaken that are illegal include former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, former White House counsel Don McGahn, and even Native American tribal leaders who met the president on routine visits to the White House.

According to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, this is typical Trump behavior.

“So often, the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,’” Tillerson said in December. “I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law.’”

Ahead, we look at 10 instances where Trump sought to break the law or encouraged others to do so, according to those who worked for or met with him, as well as his own public statements.

(Editor’s Note: This list will be updated as more instances make themselves known.)

Asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival

During a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate potential 2020 rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, possibly in exchange for continued military aid essential to the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia. (A summary of the call released by the White House seems to confirm this.) This request not only potentially constitutes a violation of campaign finance law but could also qualify as bribery — a high crime specifically laid out in the U.S. Constitution as sufficient cause for impeaching a president.

And on Thursday, Trump openly called for China to investigate the Bidens. “China should start…

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Andrea González-Ramírez
GEN
Writer for

Award-winning Puerto Rican journalist. Senior Writer at New York Magazine’s The Cut. Formerly GEN, Refinery29, and more. Read my work: https://www.thecut.com/