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Trump makes his case for presidential immunity

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As the legal implications of his criminal battle draw nearer, former President Donald Trump has been repeatedly making a controversial but clear case: codify presidential immunity or face years of chaos in American politics.

Trump was convicted at the end of May on 34 accounts related to his hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. On top of that, he faces charges in Georgia, Florida, and Washington DC for his handling of classified documents, Jan. 6, and more.

While those cases are expected to continue beyond election day in November, Trump’s recent conviction could put him behind bars before then, though future hearings and legal wrangling leaves much of those details up in the air.

Trump, meanwhile, has been calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on his behalf.

He says that presidents should be immune from this kind of criminal prosecution. Trump argues future presidents will be perpetually targeted by their political opponents from now on if immunity is not applied.

“Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function, or make decisions, in the best interest of the United States of America,” Trump said in a statement this week. “Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation, after they leave office.”

Trump furthered his argument in a recent statement, laying out hypothetical exploitation of these criminal charges.

“This could actually lead to extortion and blackmail of a President,” Trump continued. “The other side would say, ‘If you don’t do something, just the way we want it, we are going to go after you when you leave office, or perhaps even sooner.’ A President has to be free to determine what is right for our Country with no undue pressure.”

Trump has argued that legal scholars are on his side, but the question is very much in doubt. The Supreme Court is considering the presidential immunity proposal from Trump’s legal team in the case related to his handling of the January 6 riot.

During oral arguments, the Supreme Court justices seemed open to the idea that some presidential actions could be covered under a kind of presidential immunity, but seemed hesitant to say that immunity would be wholesale.

During legal arguments earlier this year, Trump’s lawyer raised questions about whether former President Barack Obama could be prosecuted for overseas drone strikes that killed Americans.

Or could President Joe Biden be prosecuted for failing to enforce existing immigration law?

While Trump has repeatedly made his case on this issue, likely only the Supreme Court could step in to accept that argument and broadly apply it on Trump’s behalf.

Whether the Justices will agree with Trump remains to be seen. A ruling is expected this month.

“Without Immunity, the Presidency, as we know it, will no longer exist. Many actions for the benefit of our Country will not be taken,” Trump said. “This is in no way what the Founders had in mind. Legal Experts and Scholars have stated that the President must have Full Presidential Immunity. A President must be free to make proper decisions. His mind must be clear, and he must not be guided by fear of retribution!”