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Ohio Lawmaker Wants Trump Investigated by International Court — Which U.S. Does Not Formally Recognize

A member of the State of Ohio’s House of Representatives wants the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to begin proceedings against President Donald Trump for “crimes against humanity” over his statements about possible treatments for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“I can’t take it anymore,” tweeted Rep. Tavia Galonski, a Democrat from Akron, on Sunday night. “I’ve been to The Hague. I’m making a referral for crimes against humanity tomorrow. Today’s press conference was the last straw. I know the need for a prosecution referral when I see one.”

She made the comments in reaction to another tweet about Trump’s push for the drug hydroxychloroquine to be used to treat COVID-19.  Its effectiveness is debated as the government orders 29 million doses of the drug and Americans are warned not to seek it out as a preventative measure.

Galonski told the Ohio Capital Journal that she was serious about making the referral but demurred as to how to do it:  “I honestly have no idea,” she said as to the specifics of the procedure, but then said, “how hard can it be?”  She went on to tweet that she needs international lawyers to “suit up” to get Trump prosecuted internationally.  “I need every lawyer that ever did any work on the international level to contact me,” she said.

In response to a tweet which said “every single member” of the Republican Party should be held “accountable for not stopping the madness oozing from the White House before we all die,” Galonski suggested that the GOP should be charged for “aiding and abetting” Trump.

Per the Capital Journal, Galonski “said her plan was to find out on Monday the referral procedure for reporting an alleged crime against humanity to The Hague.”

The problem Galonski will likely soon discover is that the United States has not ratified the Rome Statute (which set up the ICC).  As the United States has asserted to the ICC over its attempts to investigate the actions of U.S. personnel in Afghanistan:

The United States rejects any assertion of ICC jurisdiction over nationals of States that are not parties to the Rome Statute, absent a UN Security Council referral or the consent of that State.  Dating back to the 1990s, the United States has consistently objected to any exercise of jurisdiction by the ICC over U.S. personnel. We affirm this continuing position of the United States Government, and object to the request by the Office of the Prosecutor for authorization from the Court to pursue an investigation of alleged actions by U.S. personnel in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan. As the United States has previously stated, we will regard as illegitimate any attempt by the Court to assert the ICC’s jurisdiction over American citizens.

That’s a pretty thorough summary of American attitudes.

As the Brookings Institution pointed out, the ICC has “set its sights on the U.S.”  However, the court’s sights were limited to actions U.S. personnel took in Afghanistan, which is a signatory to the Rome Statute.  “Because the U.S. never ratified the Rome Statute establishing the court, it cannot investigate crimes by Americans that occur on U.S. soil,” Brookings determined.

According to one Twitter user, Rep. Galonski didn’t want to hear any of this sort of talk:

Galonski previously was involved in a bill to secure Trump’s tax returns, to which her Twitter attests.

[Image of Galonski via YouTube/Ohio House Dems. Image of Trump via JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images]

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University.  He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network who now contributes to the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only.  You should not rely on it for legal advice.  Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.  Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.