The Trump Chronicles, Volume 164: Another Day In Court

Yesterday former President Trump and his legal team were in court yesterday, specifically US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It stems from a criminal case linked to his January 6, 2021 attempt to overthrow the government and remain in power. Trump’s team filed a brief arguing that he is immune from prosecution because he was acting in his role as President. There is reason to argue that a sitting President cannot be charged with a crime but Trump wishes us to believe that he can never be prosecuted, unless his crime causes him to be impeached and removed from office by Congress.

I subscribe to an excellent podcast called Prosecuting Donald Trump and yesterday they gave me access to the recording of the hearing. I listened to it so you don’t have to. Here’s what I learned:

Trump’s legal team argues that if a President breaks the law he cannot be prosecuted, even after he leaves office, unless he was impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate. They argued that without this protection Presidents would always have to “look over his shoulder” when making decisions and worry that after they leave office they will be prosecuted. The President needs this protection to govern effectively.

Jack Smith is prosecuting the Trump case and his team responded that this is not sufficient. For example, if a President breaks the law he can then resign and provide no avenue for him to answer to his actions. Additionally they reminded the court that after Trump was impeached for his actions on January 6th several Senators advised against voting to convict. They argued that once Trump left office he would be subject to criminal charges and since he was leaving office on January 20, 2021 there was no point. Now the Trump wants to have it both ways.

It’s no surprise that I disagree with Trump but I just can’t get past the idea that the President can break the law with no fear of consequences. Trump argues that if a President can be prosecuted for actions in office it would open floodgates. One of their examples was President George W. Bush lying to Congress to get their agreement to invade Iraq. There are two problems with this: President Bush honestly believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (because his Vice President and Secretary of Defense told him so). Additionally, it’s not illegal to lie to Congress unless you’re under oath. He never was. President Trump claims he honestly believed the 2020 election was stolen from him but we have tape of him admitting he lost. This just doesn’t work.

The US Court of Appeals will likely render their decision in the next few weeks and it will almost certainly go to the Supreme Court. I can only hope the court rules against Trump.

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