Donald Trump isn’t happy that judges on a Washington, D.C., appeals court ruled that he’s not protected from prosecution in the Justice Department’s election interference case against him. The former president has long been claiming he should be immune from criminal repercussions for anything he did while in office — including conspiring to overturn the democratic process — and on Wednesday he posted to Truth Social that a president’s job is so contingent on their ability to commit crimes that it would mark the “end” of “our Country, as we know it,” if they are not afforded that right.
“If a President does not have Immunity, the Opposing Party, during his/her term in Office, can extort and blackmail the President by saying that, ‘if you don’t give us everything we want, we will Indict you for things you did while in Office,’ even if everything done was totally Legal and Appropriate,” Trump wrote, adding that “Obama, Bush, and soon, Crooked Joe Biden, would all be in PRISON. Protect Presidential Immunity. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Donald Trump claims that Obama, Bush, and Biden would all be in prison unless the court rules that the president of the United States has immunity from prosecution. pic.twitter.com/wbeOkPUcAC
— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) February 7, 2024
There’s no evidence that Bush, Obama, or Biden committed crimes while in office, but Trump is under heavy legal scrutiny for an array of potential crimes — most of them tied to his effort to remain in office despite losing to Biden. Trump tried to get the Justice Department’s case against him thrown out last year, alleging he could do no wrong because he was the president. Judge Tanya Chutkan shot down the bid, and Trump appealed, sending the case to the D.C. appeals court. In a hearing last month, Trump’s lawyers argued that immunity should go so far as to protect a president from prosecution even if they were to order SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival.
The court’s three-judge panel ruled on Tuesday that this shouldn’t be the case, nor should a president be protected from prosecution if they were to illegally attempt to overturn an election. “Former President Trump lacked any lawful discretionary authority to defy federal criminal law and he is answerable in court for his conduct,” the judges wrote.
Trump immediately started fundraising off the ruling, which isn’t surprising considering the extent to which his base seems to agree that he should be above the law. A UMass Amherst poll released Wednesday found that a whopping 74 percent of Republicans believe Trump should be able to act as a dictator for a day to start a prospective second term in office, something he has teased he will do.
Trump is expected to appeal Tuesday’s immunity decision. Once he does, it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether they want to issue a ruling of their own, which could delay Trump’s federal election interference trial. Meanwhile, he’s running for president, and though the MAGA faithful might want to give him absolute power, it’s unclear whether relentlessly posting all-caps rants about how he needs to be able to commit crimes to effectively do the job is going to resonate with most Americans.
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