Trump Was Screaming Online After Midnight About ‘Trauma’ From Facing Justice

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Amid a combination of a trial in New York on prospective financial penalties for defamation and the first balloting of the presidential primary season, Donald Trump was on his account on Truth Social in the middle of the night on Thursday screaming in all-caps about the supposed need for presidents to have absolute immunity for actions taken in their roles. The concept refers to extensive — and, in his imagining, seemingly total — protections from criminal prosecution.

Trump said the sought protections should apply even when a president’s actions “cross the line,” though he didn’t fully explain what he meant by this phrasing in the middle-of-the-night commentary.

“A PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MUST HAVE FULL IMMUNITY, WITHOUT WHICH IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM/HER TO PROPERLY FUNCTION. ANY MISTAKE, EVEN IF WELL INTENDED, WOULD BE MET WITH ALMOST CERTAIN INDICTMENT BY THE OPPOSING PARTY AT TERM END. EVEN EVENTS THAT “CROSS THE LINE” MUST FALL UNDER TOTAL IMMUNITY, OR IT WILL BE YEARS OF TRAUMA TRYING TO DETERMINE GOOD FROM BAD,” Trump said, in part. The reference to prospective “trauma” mirrors some of Trump’s other recent rhetoric, like a complaint that Justice Department prosecutor Jack Smith was ruining his “golden years.”

Smith is handling two cases against Trump, including a challenge over the ex-president’s attempts to stay in office despite losing that was recently the subject of oral arguments before a three-judge panel on a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. Forcing a halt to proceedings at the trial level, Trump’s team has been pushing a version of the immunity arguments in court, though with the caveat of allowing some prosecution under their framework — if the disputed conduct was first the subject of impeachment proceedings and an accompanying Senate conviction, as the Senate’s potential move to back any impeachment is known. The dispute is almost certain to head to the Supreme Court following the appeals court, though former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann suggested in a recent discussion on MSNBC that they might not even take it up, no matter expected entreaties.