D.C. Judges Appear Skeptical of Trump’s Immunity Claim

Three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday reacted with skepticism to Trump’s claims that a former president cannot be put on trial for any crime related to the office unless he was impeached and convicted by Congress.

The appeals court listened to Trump’s defense and a DOJ rebuttal for about an hour and fifteen minutes on Tuesday morning, with a decision likely in the next few weeks.

While questioning John Sauer, Trump’s lawyer, one judge asked whether a president could order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival.

“What kind of world are we living in … if a president orders his SEAL team to murder a political rival and then resigns or is not impeached — that is not a crime? I think that is an extraordinarily frightening future that should weigh heavily on the court’s decision,” asked James Pearce, lawyer on Jack Smith’s team.

Judge Florence Pan pointed out that Trump’s legal team made very different arguments when he was facing his second impeachment, saying that criminal prosecution lies with the courts.

The Hill

Judge Karen Henderson asked Pearce how the panel could write an opinion that would prevent a flood of legal cases against former presidents.

Pearce responded that the government’s investigation into Trump would not mean a “seachange of vindictive prosecution” is now imminent. Instead, the indictment reflects the “unprecedented nature” of the allegations against Trump, he said.

“Never in our nation’s history, until this case, has a president claimed immunity extends beyond his time in office,” Pearce said.

The entire hearing is heard below.

WaPo, The Hill, Meidas Touch