Recently Carl Bernstein called Donald Trump a "homicidal President":

We are witnessing a homicidal president convening ― purposefully ― a homicidal assembly to help him get re-elected as president of the United States instead of protecting the health and welfare of the people of the United States including his own supporters whose lives he is willing to sacrifice

In recordings of Bob Woodward's interviews with President Trump, he revealed that he intentionally misled the public about the severity of COVID-19. In public addresses he claimed that it would be no worse than the flu, while behind the scenes he admitted that he knew it would be much worse. Furthermore, the administration's policies were more consistent with the milder assessment.

Scientists months ago estimated that thousands of lives would have been saved if the administration acted sooner. Could Trump be considered criminally liable (e.g. something like reckless endangerment) for many of these deaths, and charged when he leaves office? Assuming this would ordinarily be some kind of criminal offense, would he be indemnified as a result of his official duties?

How about encouraging people to attend his campaign rallies during the pandemic without wearing masks? This endangers not only the attendees, but everyone they come into contact with after the rally. These also often violate state regulations against large gatherings.

I'm sure I could come up with other things that he's done that have endangered lives and caused many unnecessary deaths due to COVID-19, I just can't remember them at the moment.

Could his policies and/or actions be viewed as violating his oath of office? Is there any legal consequence to that?

Before the revelations of the Woodward interviews, many of his actions could be viewed as simply ignorant. But he's made it clear that he understood the consequences, and intentionally ignored and downplayed them.

1 Answer 1


There is no general legal obligations be truthful

Such an obligation only arises where specifically called out by law or where there is a relationship of trust between the parties, e.g. they are negotiating a contract, they have a doctor-patient relationship etc.

In any event, the President has legal immunity for actions performed as President. Presidents answer for their misdeeds at the ballot box, not the courthouse.

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    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 5:23

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