United Kingdom

Giving Trump ‘absolute immunity’ would encourage presidents to do crimes, former Republican officials tell court

  • Donald Trump is asking a federal appeals court to give him “absolute immunity” from prosecution.

  • It’s a terrible idea, former officials for Republican presidents say.

  • In a brief to the court, they said agreeing with Trump would undermine the Constitution and encourage future coups.

A group of former officials for Republican presidents urged a federal appeals court to shut down Donald Trump’s claim of “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution.

In an amicus brief accepted by the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia on Tuesday, the officials said siding with Trump would “encourage” future presidents to commit crimes and stage coups to remain in power.

“Nothing in our Constitution, or any case, supports former President Trump’s dangerous argument for criminal immunity,” the officials wrote.

Donald Trump is trying to get criminal charges tied to election interference in 2020 thrown out.

Special Counsel Jack Smith alleged earlier this year that Trump conspired to obstruct Congress and keep himself in power after losing the election to Joe Biden.

Trump has claimed in court that he can’t be criminally charged for things he did while president.

But in the brief filed this month, the GOP officials say that argument is an “especially weak case” that would undermine the Constitution.

“The last thing presidential immunity should do is embolden Presidents who lose re-election to engage in criminal conduct, through official acts or otherwise, as part of efforts to prevent the vesting of executive power required by Article II in their lawfully-elected successors,” the officials wrote in the brief.

Letting future presidents commit crimes to overturn election results they didn’t like would turn the Constitution “on its head,” they added.

The group noted media reports that Trump’s allies were encouraging him to use the military to enforce his election lies — and said a future president who lost reelection could deploy the military or armed federal agents to stage a coup if Trump gets his way.

“These terrifying possibilities are real, not remote,” the officials wrote.

Among the Republican officials who signed on to the brief are ex-Senator and UN Ambassador John Danforth; former Solicitor General under Ronald Reagan, Charles Fried; and Mickey Edwards, a former House lawmaker and chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan is overseeing Trump’s trial and already ruled he isn’t immune. Trump appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals.

Smith, meanwhile, tried to get the Supreme Court to weigh in immediately to prevent the trial — now set for the spring — from being delayed. The justices, though, refused to fast-track a ruling, saying they’d let the Court of Appeals rule first before considering whether to step in.

Read the original article on Business Insider