MSNBC host Joy Reid had a discussion Saturday with former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman imagining President Donald Trump resisting arrest by shutting himself inside the White House.
Reid focused on the idea of Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaing Trump and ordering him to be interviewed as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Saying that Trump’s behavior is unconventional, Reid asked how he would be made to comply if Mueller were to issue a subpoena and then see Trump defy it.
"Who would force him to comply with the subpoena ordering him to do an interview with Robert Mueller?" Reid asked.
"It would be a federal district court judge," Akerman said.
"How would they enforce it?" she asked.
"At that point, they would make a motion to hold Donald Trump in contempt," Akerman replied.
He went on to say the federal marshals could put Trump in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury.
"Normally, a person who refuses to testify before a grand jury winds up being incarcerated for the time period of the grand jury, which can be up to 18 months," Akerman added. "So, one way to enforce it is to have Donald Trump taken by the federal marshals and put in federal prison until he testifies."
As Reid would later acknowledge, the U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees Mueller’s probe, maintains that a sitting president is immune from indictment or criminal prosecution.
Reid still pushed the question further, inquiring about the possibility of Trump fighting this arrest at the hands of U.S. marshals.
"What if he refuses to open the White House door?" Reid asked. "What if he fires any Secret Service agent who would allow the federal marshals in? What if Donald Trump simply decides, ‘I don't have to follow the law? I refuse to be held under the law. No marshal can get into this White House, and any Secret Service agent that defies me is fired.'"
Akerman downplayed the possibility of Trump doing such a thing, but he did say that Trump would go to jail if he refused to answer without exercising his Fifth Amendment rights.
"He'll be basically told that either he goes in and he testifies or he takes the Fifth Amendment," Akerman added. "If he refuses to answer on the ground that a truthful answer would tend to incriminate him, he has the right to do that. If he does that, there's no contempt. If he doesn't do that, he can be directed to go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. End of story."
Reid said she was wondering about these eventualities because she saw the possibility of a constitutional crisis.
"I ask these questions because there is a finding in the Department of Justice that a sitting president can't be indicted, so I wonder if Donald Trump just decides that he just doesn't recognize the authority of any of these investigators," she said. "I think that’s when you get to what we generally used to call a constitutional crisis."