Trump's legal argument would allow impeached presidents to 'kill senators,' Democrat claims

 January 10, 2024

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) criticized former President Donald Trump's legal argument of presidential immunity, deeming it "utterly ludicrous" during an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Tuesday.

Raskin expressed astonishment at the presentation in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Trump and his legal team asserted that the president possesses the right to commit assassinations without facing prosecution unless impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.

The claims

As a member of Congress, Raskin raised concerns about the potential consequences of such a claim, suggesting that if a president could order assassinations of political rivals, there might be a risk of murdering senators to prevent conviction.

He pointed out the dangerous scenario where a president, facing a narrow margin in the Senate, could resort to eliminating opposition members to ensure immunity from impeachment.

Raskin emphasized the absurdity of Trump's argument, stating that it is unprecedented in American history. He highlighted the danger inherent in Trump's worldview, characterized by its outlandish and deranged nature, particularly revolving around the concept of political violence.

The court's response

The three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the legal team led by special counsel Jack Smith strongly contested the argument presented by Trump's legal team.

Judge Michelle Childs, appointed by Biden, challenged the notion that a president could resign to avoid impeachment, a scenario that, according to Trump's attorneys, would enable them to evade future prosecution.

James Pearce, a lawyer representing Smith's office, vehemently opposed the idea of weakening mechanisms holding presidents accountable for criminal actions.

He emphasized the grave implications of a world where a president could order the assassination of a political rival, resign or avoid impeachment, and evade criminal charges, calling it an "extraordinarily frightening future" for the court to consider.

Ongoing attacks

During the proceedings, Judge Florence Pan, another Biden appointee, pointed out the inconsistency in Trump's legal team's arguments.

She highlighted that in Trump's second impeachment trial, related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, his attorneys argued against the need for censure, asserting that charges could be brought for any criminal conduct.

Sauer, a member of Trump's legal team, countered by suggesting that the threat of prosecution could have a chilling effect on future presidents' decision-making.

He argued that presidents might hesitate, fearing potential legal consequences and asking themselves, "Am I going to jail for this?" when faced with controversial decisions.

The ongoing battle continues as Trump seeks relief from one of the major legal battles pushing against his current campaign.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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