We live in a country where supposedly anyone can grow up to be president of the United States—if you are straight, white, “Christian,” and rich. In my lifetime, there has only been one exception to that rule. But the idea that anyone can grow up to be president is prevalent in the mythology of the United States of America.
Most Americans are generally good people. We go to work, pay our taxes, raise our children, and try to do good things in our communities. However, as human beings, we are also imperfect. We make mistakes, we screw up, some of us break laws, most of us have likely violated at least one statute. Most of us have at some point probably driven above the speed limit, jaywalked, gotten a parking ticket, or been caught in some other minor transgression. Others have committed major crimes for which they were indicted, arrested, put on trial, and found not guilty, or found guilty and sentenced to some sort of punishment. For the most part, this system has worked for us. You commit a crime, you pay a price.
But there is one person in the country who cannot be indicted, arrested, or jailed—even if he has committed a crime. That person is the president of the United States of America, someone who is supposed to be just like us: a normal, everyday person—in other words, a less-than-perfect human being. The idea that our president cannot be indicted is not in the U.S. Constitution; it is not settled case law. There is no precedent for it. It is based on an opinion from 1973, and was reaffirmed in a 2000 memo.
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