President Trump’s immunity hearing spotlights his legal misconduct

Donald Trump often tries to have his legal cake and eat it too.

He has scoffed at the idea that he could be indicted, even though he has repeatedly advocated prosecuting his political opponents. He blamed his own prosecution on President Biden, even though he told Hillary Clinton during a 2016 debate that he would “go to jail” if he became president. and attacks without basis. He argued it was a travesty for the judge to take the decision out of voters’ hands by disqualifying him from voting, even though he had repeatedly suggested his own political opponents should be disqualified. .

And while an appeals court on Tuesday took up Trump’s unprecedented claim for presidential immunity from criminal prosecution, Trump’s blatant and self-serving shift in standards amid his own legal crisis is also at stake in court. I was disappointed.

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The central argument advanced by Trump lawyer D. John Sauer was that the president is immune from prosecution for official actions unless Congress first impeaches and convicts him.

Judge Florence Y. Pan and Trump lawyer D. John Sauer argue on January 8 over limits on the president’s immunity (Video: U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit | YouTube)

Judge Florence Y. Pan asked Sauer whether immunity also applied to a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate political opponents but was impeached but not convicted.Sauer strained to avoid giving a yes or no answer, but said that was certainly his claim and immunity applied..

Perhaps the most useful pushback from the trio of clearly skeptical judges came when the actual impeachment of Trump came up.

4 key takeaways from President Trump’s presidential immunity hearing

Pan and Judge Karen L. Henderson, the only Republican-appointed judge on the panel, said Sauer’s claims are similar to what other Trump lawyers called for a second impeachment after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. He suggested that they were taking advantage of what they were trying to prevent.

In fact, the argument at the time was that Trump could not be convicted by the Senate because he was no longer the actual president, but the trial took place in February 2021, but in any case the judicial system It was said that it was a good venue.

“We have a judicial process in this country. We have an investigative process in this country that doesn’t affect former presidents,” Trump attorney David Schoen said at the time. “It is … suitable for investigation, prosecution and punishment, with all the attributes of that department.”

Schoen argued that the courts are best equipped to decide such complex legal questions because Congress “does not and cannot provide judicial guarantees.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Bruce Castor, reiterated the point even more directly at the time.

“If my colleague mentioned this [Democratic] “The floor actually believes that President Trump committed a crime…After he leaves office, you’re going to go and arrest him,” Castor said.

Henderson said in a separate lawsuit that Trump’s lawyers argued at the time that the immunity clause they were seeking would “expire when the president leaves office” and would not “place the president ‘above the law.'” He pointed out that he claimed that

Trump’s lawyer who handled the case said: “As the text of the Constitution makes clear, the president, like all other citizens, is subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the state and federal governments alike.” .

The history behind Jack Smith’s Trump vs. Supreme Court bet

Just because some of President Trump’s lawyers argue one thing and others argue another doesn’t mean the latter doesn’t have a valid legal argument. Mr. Sauer argued that he was not bound by what Mr. Trump’s lawyers had previously said. (He also tried to gamely differentiate the judicial system investigating former president and actually prosecute he. )

But Pan didn’t just suggest that this evolution was entirely convenient. She also suggested it has real consequences.

She argued that President Trump may have avoided the very impeachment conviction that would probably be a prerequisite today. because His lawyers are currently denying this argument.

“In fact, the argument was that there was no need to vote for impeachment because there was a backstop of criminal prosecution, and it appears that many senators relied on that in voting to acquit,” Pan said. Ta.

Sauer argued that speculating why senators voted the way they did is speculative. However, the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, made such a claim explicit when announcing his vote to acquit. And a perhaps decisive number of Republican senators said they voted to acquit Trump, arguing that as a then-former president, he was no longer subject to conviction and removal from office.

In other words, Republican senators have suggested that even the supposed preconditions for the criminal prosecution that Trump’s lawyers now say are necessary are legally impossible. And they did so by adopting his lawyer’s rationale.

As this example shows, such immunity allows a president to do whatever he wants in his final days in office, knowing that there will not be enough time for Congress to impeach and convict him. It will open up your sexuality.

Coincidentally, Trump impeachment lawyer Castor directly addressed this situation in February 2021.

“Therefore, there is no opportunity for the president of the United States to run rampant until the end of his term in January and get away with it,” Castor said. “The Department of Justice knows what to do with people like that.”

Trump’s new lawyers are now effectively arguing that this is all the Justice Department can do against such people: do nothing.

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