Update, August 15, 1:33 am:

On August 14, Trump tweeted his own interpretation of what freedom of the press means, as quoted in The Hill:

"it is not 'freedom of the press' when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false."



In other words, freedom of the press means the freedom to print or say anything that Donald Trump agrees with.

Trump seems to be very attached to the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, as evidenced by his recent statement hinting that "2nd Amendment people" might wish to use their guns in some undefined way if they don't like his opponent's choice of Supreme Court Justices, but he appears to have overlooked the 1st Amendment to that same Constitution.

As Trump might have been able to learn from Attorney Khizr Khan if Trump had not been so busy insulting this Gold Star parent and his Gold Star wife because of their religion, the 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech to everyone even if the person at the head of the government doesn't like what the speaker or writer says.

Most likely, Trump's tweet, which was reportedly in reaction to a negative New York Times story about the state of his campaign, was directed toward his stated objective of "expanding" the libel laws so he could intimidate his opponents through lawsuits. But there are disturbing implications to his statement that go well beyond libel law issues.

Trump's definition of freedom of speech would be perfectly acceptable in North Korea today, as well as in the Russia of Vladimir Putin, for whom Trump has had such kind words.

This definition would also have been well understood in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, as well as many other dictatorships around the world past and present.

But Donald Trump's definition of "freedom of the press" has no place in the United States of America.

And what could Trump's definition of "freedom of the press" mean for discussion of immigration policy? Here is a hypothetical example.

The truth according to Donald Trump is that Mexican immigrants are mainly criminals and rapists and that many, if not all, Muslim immigrants are potential terrorists who are filled with hatred for America.

Suppose a newspaper prints an article about a (hypothetical) study showing that Mexican immigrants have lower crime rates than American citizens, or about the 3 or 4 million Muslims who are living in the US peacefully with no known terrorist sympathies or affiliations.

Since such an article would most likely be considered to be "false" according to Donald Trump, the publication, according to his interpretation of "freedom of the press" could be closed down and the writer jailed (perhaps to be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo).

Or suppose that a scholarly journal publishes a study showing that H-1B immigrants bring skills and innovation to America that boost our economy and create more jobs for American workers (and such studies do exist).

But Donald Trump is on record for saying that H-1B visas (for which he has sponsored more than 1,000 workers himself, and which his own wife used in order to work in the US), are bad for American workers.

Ergo, the scholarly study supporting H-1B visas must be false and therefore unprotected by the 1st amendment according to Trump. What guarantee is there that the editors of the publication in question might not one day find themselves arrested by President Trump's special "1st Amendment task force" and hauled off to prison (or Guantanamo) or publishing something that our Leader-in Chief decides is against the public interest (or, as they say in totalitarian regimes, against the "interests of the state")?

In that case, we would have a different system of government in America from the one we have now. It would not be one that could be called democracy.

Update, August 14, 10:50 am:

In another example of why so many legal scholars are worried about what would happen to America's democracy under a Donald Trump presidency, Trump is now showing that there is one more feature of this form of government, in addition to free speech and separation of powers, that he doesn't like very much.

It is called elections - that is, unless Trump has a chance to intimidate voters with "election observers" that can only remind one of his promise to create a mass deportation "task force" (which his leading primary opponent, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, once compared to fascist "jackboots"),



My original post appears below:

On June 4, the New York Times published an article describing in great detail the ways on which numerous legal scholars, including even law professor John Yoo, who became notorious for trying to justify the use of torture as a Bush administration official, are critical of Donald Trump (whose own support for torture is so well documented that no citation is necessary), for threatening the rule of law in America.



Not surprisingly, Trump who has been lashing out at the "crooked media" during the course of his campaign, is now threatening to retaliate against the Times, (although over a different story).

Specifically, Trump is threatening to revoke the paper's press credentials to cover his campaign, and he has even suggested that the paper is "gonna be out of business very soon".



If one looks in detail at the reasons why many legal experts, both liberal and conservative, are condemning Trump because of his lack of adherence to America's democratic values, one could ask how long the New York Times or any other paper that says anything critical of him will be allowed to keep on publishing.

If he becomes president, will Trump have his own version of the National Socialist Volkischer Beobachter or Soviet Pravda as America's only permitted news source?

Will we be reading the Trump Times instead of the New York Times, Washington Post or any other paper that says something which America's Leader-in-Chief doesn't like?

In Part 2 of these comments, I will take a closer look at why so many legal authorities on both sides of the political fence are worried about the future of our democracy under a Donald Trump presidency.

To be continued in Part 2.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com