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Supreme Court Seems Inclined to Grant Some Presidential Immunity for Trump, Risking Delays

Donald Trump (Credits: RFI)

During a Supreme Court hearing, justices expressed skepticism toward arguments presented by former President Trump’s attorneys, particularly regarding the extent of presidential immunity.

While some seemed inclined to offer certain protections against criminal prosecution, they appeared wary of granting immunity for extreme scenarios such as attempted coups or the assassination of political rivals.

Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor posed hypothetical scenarios to Trump’s counsel, probing the limits of presidential immunity.

Supreme Court to Grant Presidential Immunity for Trump (Credits: RFI)

Despite assertions from Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, that many hypothetical situations could plausibly fall under presidential immunity, justices questioned whether such broad protections would essentially make the presidency immune to legal consequences, turning the Oval Office into a potential hub for criminal activity.

Trump argues for absolute immunity for official acts while in office, extending even after leaving office. His claim aims to shield his efforts to prevent the transfer of power after the 2020 election.

However, Special Counsel Jack Smith contends that only sitting presidents enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution, and Trump’s proposed broad immunity would provide a free pass for criminal conduct.

The hearing, which explored the boundaries of presidential immunity, could impact Trump’s legal battles. Justices discussed the distinction between official and personal actions and debated how to segregate them concerning immunity.

While some justices hinted at potential protections for certain official functions, others expressed concerns about emboldening presidents to commit crimes and avoiding legal consequences.

Trump (Credits: Courthouse News Service)

Throughout the hearing, justices refrained from referring to Trump by name, instead using terms like “the defendant” or “the former president.” The case, Trump v. United States, has broader implications beyond Trump himself, raising questions about presidential powers and accountability.

A decision in the case is anticipated by the end of June, with both sides urging the court to act expeditiously. Justices grappled with complex legal issues, highlighting the profound impact their ruling could have on the presidency and the country’s future.

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