Legal Heavyweights Tell Federal Court That Trump Has No Absolute Immunity

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In a new filing with a federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., a group of legal figures with professional backgrounds in and out of government insist there is no absolute immunity covering ex-President Donald Trump by virtue of his time in office. The contravening idea from Trump’s team is that legal protections allegedly covering the entirety of his official acts as president should stop a criminal case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith over Trump’s attempts to stay in power despite losing.

Trump’s team claims there’s an exception in cases of impeachment followed by a Senate conviction. Smith’s team had sought early intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court to speed up the appeals process, but the higher court rejected his request, so with the mid-level appeals court in D.C. is where this dispute remains.

The 16 signatories to this filing, including individuals like George Conway and Ty Cobb — the latter having once worked in the Trump White House, identified themselves as “former prosecutors, elected officials, other government officials, and constitutional lawyers who have collectively spent decades defending the Constitution, the interests of the American people, and the rule of law.” Olivia Troye, who worked with then-Vice President Mike Pence in the Trump era, also joined.

The group said that Trump’s claimed immunity would in fact jeopardize the balance of power across the federal government, putting the presidency in a new category outside the clear reach of the judiciary and separate from a handling of Congressional action that reflects members’ intent, since apparently there’d be much less impetus to pursue such under the Trump team’s ideas.

“But it is defendant’s claimed immunity—not his prosecution— that would undermine those principles,” they said. “The immunity he seeks would severely impair the ability of the current President, in whom all executive powers are vested, see U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 1, to take care that Congress’s laws proscribing obstruction of federal elections are faithfully executed. And by asking the Judicial Branch to fashion a sweeping atextual immunity from whole cloth, he draws the Judiciary and the Executive into conflict.” The filing also characterized Trump’s actual actions, as alleged, as falling well outside the confines of the presidency and instead constituting involvement in electoral politics. Read the whole document here.