Gottlieb, who worked as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, argued that the commander-in-chief is guilty of the crime because he exposed dozens of people to the novel coronavirus, which is a deadly disease.
He noted that Trump has engaged in “reckless” conduct since the onset of the pandemic, detailing his behavior.
The president admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he knew how dangerous COVID-19 was early on, but refused to take action. He has also publicly downplayed the severity of the virus, pushing a “disinformation campaign.”
After learning that one of his advisers was sick with COVID-19, Trump attended a fundraiser with more than 100 people.
Trump removed his face mask as soon as he returned to the White House from Walter Reed, potentially exposing members of his staff to the virus.
The columnist also pointed out that Trump has held rallies since leaving the hospital, even though experts describe such mass gatherings as super-spreader events.
“Precedent teaches that the average citizen would not be able to escape criminal prosecution if he engaged in this kind of same brazen conduct,” Gottlieb wrote, pointing to a case prosecuted by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
“In March 2015, a gas explosion destroyed a New York City residential and commercial building, killing two. The defendants had tapped a gas line that wasn’t theirs,” he wrote, noting that Vance “convicted the building’s owner and two others of homicide.”
Gottlieb argued that it would be “neither novel nor unprecedented” to charge a public official with manslaughter, writing that Michigan’s former head of Health and Human Services faced similar charges for his involvement in the Flint water crisis.
Furthermore, even though the Justice Department has a policy that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, Trump could face manslaughter charges once he leaves office, according to Gottlieb.
Noting that ordinary citizens have been prosecuted for spreading coronavirus, he concluded his column by asserting that Trump is guilty of manslaughter.
“Trump chose from the start to preserve his own power over protecting the people whom he swore to protect. He is responsible for their deaths. That is manslaughter.”
It remains unclear how many individuals Trump directly infected with coronavirus. As ABC News reported, according to an internal FEMA memo, at least 34 individuals connected to the White House have tested positive for the dangerous disease.
Even members of the president’s family were affected. Son Barron Trump and first lady Melania both tested positive for COVID-19.