Free Pass: If Trump Has Immunity for “Official” Presidential Acts, How Will This Affect America?

But how does this affect Trump’s January 6 case and his presidential run? 

US Presidents Have Some Immunity 

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Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that US presidents are entitled to a degree of immunity from criminal prosecution when it comes to any ‘official’ acts that are carried out while in office. 

A Win for Republicans 

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Donald Trump sees the 6-3 majority ruling as a “big win for our constitution and democracy”, as this judgment will most likely push out his January 6 case until after the US presidential polls scheduled for November.  

Blue Party Got the Blues? 

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While Republicans welcomed the decision, Democratic leaders were far from pleased, with legal experts warning that this ruling could undermine the foundations of US democracy. 

A Fine Line 

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As the court’s six conservative justices ruled, presidents possess “absolute immunity” for official acts, but not for unofficial ones. That is a fine distinction that could hinder the federal case against Trump for his efforts to overturn 2020’s presidential election results. 

Happy House Speaker 

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But Trump is not the only one smiling. Republican House speaker, Mike Johnson, said: “Today’s ruling by the court is a victory for former President Trump and all future presidents, and another defeat for President Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice and Jack Smith”. 

It’s up to the People 

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Johnson added, “As President Trump has repeatedly said, the American people, not President Biden’s bureaucrats, will decide the November 5 election”.  

Immunity From What? 

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One set of allegations against Trump – regarding his and his allies’ efforts to weaponize the Justice Department – has officially been placed in the bucket of absolute immunity. 

Homework for the Lower Courts 

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When it comes to various other allegations, Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion claimed that it is up to the lower courts to go through a process of “fact-specific” and perhaps “challenging” analysis.  

Pressuring Pence 

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According to the Supreme Court, Trump’s pressure campaign on Vice President Mike Pence to help him overturn the election results is “presumptively” immune. The burden has also been placed on the prosecutors to refute the presumptive immunity. 

Remember the Fake Electors? 

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Regarding Trump’s state-level efforts to overturn the election results, which includes the fake electors scheme, lower courts have been informed by the high court to analyze what of that conduct counts as an official act and what does not. 

A Big Task 

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As per Roberts’ statement, that analysis will require an “assessment of numerous alleged interactions with a wide variety of state officials and private persons”.

The January 6 Chaos 

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In addition, the lower courts will also have to determine what part of Trump’s January 6-related behavior, including his comments that fueled the Capitol riot, was an official presidential act. 

Roberts said it may be necessary for the lower courts to look at “what else was said contemporaneous to the excerpted communications, or who was involved in transmitting the electronic communications and in organizing the rally” before deciding which of the communications are immunized. 

Who’s the Judge? 

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The court has chosen US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington to determine how much of the federal criminal case involving Trump’s efforts to overturn the results will proceed. Should Chutkan rule on what constitutes official acts and what doesn’t, it’s possible that Trump would appeal the rulings to the DC Circuit Court before proceeding to the Supreme Court. 

No Court Case This Year? 

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As per the Supreme Court’s ruling, those appeals would have to be resolved pre-trial, which makes it unlikely that this case will be presented before a jury ahead of November’s elections. 

What Happens Now? 

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The biggest question currently is what will happen next in special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case against Trump. The special counsel’s office has not provided any public statements yet and nothing on Chutkan’s docket signifies what the next steps concerning this trial will be. 

Jim on Jack 

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Jim Jordan, the Republican chair of the House judiciary committee, said: “Hyper-partisan prosecutors like Jack Smith cannot weaponize the rule of law to go after the administration’s chief political rival, and we hope that the left will stop its attacks on President Trump and uphold democratic norms”.

“A Sad Day for America” 

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Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, feels differently: “This is a sad day for America and a sad day for our democracy”. Democrats have described the Supreme Court’s decision as an attack on the separation of powers, as well as a blemish on the court’s reputation.  

A Weak System? 

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Schumer added, “This disgraceful decision by the Maga Supreme Court – which is comprised of three justices appointed by Mr. Trump himself – enables the former president to weaken our democracy by breaking the law. This decision undermines the credibility of the Supreme Court, and suggests that political influence trumps all in our courts today”.

Say “No” to Trump 

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Joe Biden’s campaign team agreed that yesterday’s ruling boosted the stakes of the presidential race, imploring voters to reject Trump at November’s ballots if they want to avoid a repeat of 2021’s January 6 violence. 

Worse Than War? 

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Representative and New York-based Democrat Dan Goldman has claimed that Trump’s re-election is “far and away the biggest threat since the Civil War”. Goldman also previously served as lead majority counsel during Trump’s original impeachment inquiry.

Goodbye Democracy? 

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Goldman continued: “If Joe Biden is not elected in November, we will not have a democracy that we have known for 250 years”. 

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