April 1, 2023
World closing in on Putin; Trump anticipates his own arrest
Time may be running out for Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump for very different reasons.

It's unlikely that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be handcuffed any time soon after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him, but former U.S. officials and war crimes prosecutors said the former KGB agent's world shrank significantly after the announcement.

The court’s accusation on Friday, that he oversaw the war crime of the unlawful abduction and deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia, locks in his status as an international pariah and will severely limit his ability to travel outside Russia, the experts said.

“The result of this is he’s not going to travel any place he thinks he might get arrested,” said Todd Buchwald, who served as special coordinator for the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice in the Obama and Trump administrations.

Although the ICC has no police force of its own, the warrant “cordons off” the 123 countries that signed on to the statute that created the court, because Putin runs the risk of arrest if he travels to any of them, said Buchwald, now a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington University’s Law School.

Under the statute, those countries are obliged to carry out arrest warrants, no matter the rank of the accused. But most governments also abide by an international legal principle that heads of state have legal immunity from other courts.
And it is unclear how many governments would be ready to follow through and arrest the president of a nuclear-armed, oil-rich power with a history of exacting revenge and carrying out assassinations.

The Tass News Agency reported Saturday that Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and considers its decisions null and void, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
In Donald Trump’s situation, the former president called for protests Saturday in response to what he claimed would be his imminent arrest in a Manhattan criminal investigation, even as his advisers said Trump’s team does not have specific knowledge about the timing of an indictment.

Writing from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, Trump surprised his advisers by posting an all-caps message on his Truth Social platform on Saturday that declared he “WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” His language echoed rhetoric that he used in advance of the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by his supporters.

Trump’s advisers and lawyers have expected for days that he will be indicted in the New York case, which hinges on a $130,000 payment to an adult-film star. But Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said Saturday morning there had been no “notification” of an indictment and said Trump’s supporters should attend a rally he is holding next week in Texas for his 2024 reelection.

Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump, said his remark about the timing of his arrest was gleaned from media reports on Friday about local and federal law enforcement players expecting to convene early next week to discuss security and logistics related to Trump’s expected indictment.

“Since this is a political prosecution, the District Attorney’s office has engaged in a practice of leaking everything to the press, rather than communication with President Trump’s attorneys as would be done in a normal case,” Necheles said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Two other people close to the former president who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations said they did not know exactly, when or even if, he would be indicted. They said that advisers and lawyers on his team had warned Trump in recent days an indictment could come early next week, including the possibility of Tuesday, but did not know why he singled out that day in his post.

Story Date: March 19, 2023
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