Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Citizen Trump

For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant.  But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution. ...

It would be a striking paradox if the President, who alone is vested with the constitutional duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed," were the sole officer capable of defying those laws with impunity.

We cannot accept former President Trump's claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power -- the recognition and implementation of election results.  Nor can we sanction his apparent contention that the Executive has carte blanche to violate the rights of individual citizens to vote and to have their votes count. 

At bottom, former President Trump's stance would collapse our system of separated powers by placing the President beyond the reach of all three Branches.  Presidential immunity against federal indictment would mean that, as to the President, the Congress could not legislate, the Executive could not prosecute and the Judiciary could not review.  We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter.  Careful evaluation of these concerns leads us to conclude that there is no functional justification for immunizing former Presidents from federal prosecution in general or for immunizing former President Trump from the specific charges in the Indictment.  In so holding, we act, "not in derogation of the separation of powers, but to maintain their proper balance."

-- Ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in USA v Trump concluding that former president Trump is not immune to prosecution for acts related to the January 6th 2021 assault on the US Capitol (6 February 2024)

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