(CTN News) – Former President Donald Trump issued an all-caps social media message at 1:59 a.m. ET Thursday, claiming that presidents who “cross the line” should be awarded “total immunity.”
It is an extension of Trump’s lawyers‘ broad immunity claim in their efforts to avoid indictment by special counsel Jack Smith for the former president’s efforts to influence the 2020 presidential election results.
An appeals court in Washington, DC, will soon rule on the legal merits, albeit the three-judge panel seemed doubtful during oral arguments last week.
As he travels from the campaign trail to the courts, Trump is making a political case, and if voters send him to the White House in November, they will effectively be supporting his claims.
Donald Trump is the clear favourite to win the Republican nomination for the third time in a row, and CNN‘s most recent projection has Trump leading President Joe Biden in enough states to recapture the White House.
Trump’s claim to literally unchecked power as president (he has also stated that he would be a dictator for a day to deal with immigration at the border and focus on oil drilling) contradicts what every American schoolchild is taught about a federal system of government based on separation of powers.
Norm Eisen, a CNN legal pundit who defended House Democrats during Trump‘s first impeachment trial, believes that no one is above the law. “Everyone is subject to the Constitution.””No, you cannot cross the queue,” Eisen responded.
He contended that granting a president full immunity would lead to a dictatorship.
Late last year, a group of former Republican administration officials filed an amicus brief in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, claiming that the immunity idea was “absurd,” “dangerous,” and would remove the guardrails from one of the most powerful people on the planet.
“The Constitution does not confer any kind of immunity upon former Presidents for conduct that violates the criminal laws of the United States and instead contemplates that a former President might be prosecuted for crimes committed in office,” the letter went on to say.
They also added some interesting historical facts, such as former President Ulysses Grant being caught speeding in a carriage through Washington’s streets. He was held and then fined.
Former President Bill Clinton admitted to providing false testimony as part of a deal to avoid punishment. When former President Gerald Ford issued a pardon and former President Richard Nixon accepted it, both men recognised that presidents are subject to the law.
Donald Trump’s Attempt to Alter 2020 Election: Unprecedented in U.S. History
If anyone believes Donald Trump means what he says on social media, go back to his tweets prior to the January 6, 2021 insurrection, in which he openly advocated attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.
His statement from early Thursday morning is worth reading in its entirety, along with some background. What follows are his words (capitalised) along with some background information provided by me.
Since 1789, 46 presidents had served, including Trump during his first term, and Trump, hoping to be the 47th, would be the first to argue that a president should have “absolute immunity.”
Donald Trump is currently facing four different criminal cases. In addition to the federal action, a Georgia case concerns Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Smith is also accusing Trump of mishandling sensitive information after he left the White House. The Manhattan district attorney also indicted Trump for hush money payments made around the 2016 election.
To be true, US presidents have frequently bypassed Congress to exercise their power. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, a legal principle that allows persons who believe they are being held illegally in prison or detention to dispute it, in order to imprison people outside of the court system. Following World War II, presidents launched conflicts abroad.
These presidents would most likely claim that, as presidents, they are entitled to some legal protection in order to implement policies and lead the country. Their actions were also scrutinised by the courts, which have not hesitated to hold presidents accountable. All presidents practiced peaceful power transfer.In contrast, Trump actively sought to retain power.
Donald Trump’s attempt to influence the 2020 presidential election does not appear to be an accident or a simple mistake. It was a comprehensive operation that included persuading state officials to “find” more votes, recruiting phoney electors in key states, and pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes.
Except for Donald Trump, no president in US history has been prosecuted after leaving office. Trump argues that Democrats and Biden are persecuting him, but this is false. He was indicted by Smith, a special counsel appointed specifically to separate the Trump cases from the Department of Justice.
Donald Trump was not indicted at the end of his administration, but years later, following a large-scale investigation by a select House committee led by Democrats and including some Republicans, he heard testimony from mostly Republican witnesses. Smith has applied much of that approach to his own study.
Ultimately, Donald Trump was indicted in two federal cases by grand juries made up of ordinary Americans in Washington, DC and Florida. Meanwhile, Trump has stated that if reelected, he will use the Department of Justice to target his political opponents.
Is this a veiled admission that his acts as President breached the law? Or is it a reference to last week’s court proceedings, when his lawyer told judges that a hypothetical president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to kill a political rival could only be tried if impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate?
Certainly, there are grey regions between good and bad. Consider a country in which the head of state has no obligation to investigate what is legal, beneficial, or harmful.
This is a good place to point out Donald Trump’s circular thinking. In arguing for absolute immunity, his counsel contended that a president could only be prosecuted if convicted by the Senate in an impeachment trial. This contradicts what Trump’s supporters asserted during his impeachment trial, when they argued against impeachment because he may still face criminal charges.
Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution distinguishes the impeachment process from indictment and prosecution, noting that the impeached person is still “subject to indictment, trial, judgement, and punishment, according to law.”
This is a clear attempt to conflate his own legal difficulties with the larger debate about policing in the US. Almost no one believes that rogue cops should be immune to prosecution.
This looks to be Donald Trump’s attempt at humility. He consistently overestimates his own accomplishments as president.
Donald Trump’s attorneys argued that a president should be immune from prosecution for actions such as providing false information to Congress prior to deploying US troops (a reference to former President George W. Bush) or authorising the death of a US citizen abroad via drone strike (a reference to former President Barack Obama).
However, neither of those presidents were prosecuted. And neither Donald Trump nor Biden has been shy about deploying US military power.
An appeals court is currently considering the full immunity claim. The judges were all extremely sceptical. Donald Trump appears to expect or hope that the US Supreme Court, where he nominated three of the nine justices, will eventually weigh in.
The Supreme Court has ordered that the appeals court reconsider the matter. Meanwhile, the first criminal case against him, for attempting to manipulate election results, has been temporarily halted.