After testifying Wednesday at the House Judiciary Committee's hearing on police reform, Fox News contributor Dan Bongino said that members of Congress were actively considering "really stupid" ideas that seemingly were not carefully thought through.
In a Thursday morning interview on "Fox & Friends" with hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade, the former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent noted that a handful of Democratic lawmakers were not there to "solve any problems" or listen to experience or expertise.
Bongino recalled that, although the sympathies expressed for the families of George Floyd or Patrick Underwood were unanimous, some on the left were in attendance just to "stoke the flames of division."
Bongino explained that part of what was on the chopping block was qualified immunity for police officers. Under the judicially created doctrine and as applied to police, officers are shielded from being personally liable for constitutional violations – like the right to be free from excessive force – for money damages under federal law so long as the officials did not violate “clearly established” law.
The idea behind qualified immunity was to protect the police from frivolous lawsuits and allow some "breathing room" for police mistakes that involve split-second judgments that are made during tense and dangerous situations.
That said, citing the deaths of Floyd and Eric Garner, Democrats have argued that qualified immunity has served as a barrier to justice, rather than upholding it. Calls to end qualified immunity have grown louder over the last couple of weeks amid protesters' chants to defund or disband police departments. And politicians are listening.
"Has anybody thought this through? Anyone?" Bongino asked.
"Qualified immunity -- by the way, do you know what I find interesting, Brian? No one wants to repeal the immunities congressmen get and congresswomen [get] for talking on the floor of the House," he remarked. "No one is talking about that. No one wants to remove the immunity for judges. You can't sue judges for certain decisions in the course of their work. But, you want to do it for cops."
"Now, listen, let me be crystal clear: any illegality on the part of a police officer – obviously the tragedy with Mr. Floyd, that doesn't apply – you can absolutely be sued for engaging in criminal behavior. You are not immune from criminal law if you are a police officer," he stated further.
"But, the ability to make it open season on police officers, to sue them for every perceived gripe against them ... [Do] you ever want to have a cop again on your street? If you let this go through, you can kiss that goodbye," he told the "Friends" hosts.
Bongino asserted that, by ending qualified immunity, it would also be "open season" for some of the "bad lawyers among us" to sue "every single cop every time there is a gripe," noting that police officers don't have legal "slush funds" and work for starting salaries in the $30,000-a-year range.
"This is what I can’t stand about Congress. Don't ever conflate Congress’s doing something with doing something good," he said. "This is a really stupid idea."
"And one more thing: Not only you’re not going to get any cops or recruit any cops, the cops on the street now aren’t going to touch anyone ever. They’re not going to want to get sued," he concluded. "Anybody you put hands on is going to sue you and the lawyers are going to have signs up in every high crime area: ‘Had police interaction? Call us [at] 1-800-whatever.’ This will be a disaster that nobody has thought through."