Trump Jr shares bogus legal interpretation that Nancy Pelosi broke law by tearing up SOTU speech

Bizarre interpretation of a law protecting government records leads to mockery of a pro-Trump political operative on Twitter

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 05 February 2020 21:17 GMT
Nancy Pelosi rips up Trump's State of the Union speech in front of him

Donald Trump Jr has lent his name and voice to a bogus interpretation of US law that has been used to argue that Nancy Pelosi could be removed from office for tearing up her copy of the president’s State of the Union speech.

The supposed legal interpretation that her destruction of the document is a crime punishable with jail time was seen online shortly after Ms Pelosi’s dramatic move, and promoted by figures like the leader of the far-right group Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk.

Mr Trump Jr, for his part, retweeted a posting about the law — which prohibits removing or destroying government documents — made by Carl Higbie, a pro-Trump political operative who made a name for himself before the current presidency by promoting the racist birther conspiracy that Barack Obama was born in Africa.

“If Trump broke this law the Democrats would try to impeach him,” Mr Trump Jr wrote, referring to his father in a tweet that seems clearly intended to troll Democrats.

By the time the younger Trump invoked 18 U.S.C. § 2071, the idea that it could be applied to the speaker of the House’s actions had been widely criticised and mocked already. Many simply chimed in to call the idea — and those posting about it — “stupid” or a “f*****g dumba**”.

The law prohibits the removal or destruction of any record "filed or deposited with any clerk or officer" of a US court or public office. Ms Pelosi's copy would have been one among many, and not the copy officially filed with the court.

Meanwhile others noted that prosecuting an elected leader for destroying a copy of a speech would necessarily mean that anyone who receives a copy of a speech given in Congress couldn’t toss the document when they were done with it.

“I’ll admit it, I once recycled a hard copy of my boss’s floor speech,” wrote Eric Mee, a communications staffer for Democratic representative Mike Levin, in response to Mr Kirk. “Where do I turn myself in?”

Still others jumped on the idea, and parroted the president’s calls to jail his 2016 political opponent, Hillary Clinton, but with Ms Pelosi as the target.

“Lock her up,” at least one Twitter user wrote, simply.

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