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How Does Trump’s Immunity Appeal Impact Legal System?

Former President Donald Trump attended a hearing before a three-judge DC Circuit Court of Appeals panel to discuss whether he had presidential immunity following the 2020 election and could not be prosecuted for his actions on January 6, 2021, by special counsel Jack Smith. The hearing was held after the US Supreme Court refused a petition from Smith, which was sent back to the Circuit Court.

The judges, appointed by Joe Biden and George H.W. Bush, questioned Trump’s attorney John Sauer with hypothetical questions and appeared skeptical of his position. One unusual exchange involved a judge asking Sauer what if a president ordered SEAL Team Six to kill a political rival.

Trump’s attorney maintained that the president would have to be impeached and convicted before he could be prosecuted. Special counsel James Pearce argued that this scenario is a frightening future that should weigh heavily on the court’s decision.

Judge Karen Henderson, a Bush appointee, questioned Trump’s position on the issue of immunity, stating that it is paradoxical that his constitutional duty to enforce laws allows him to violate criminal law.

Trump’s case revolves around a former president being prosecuted by his current political opponent, which made Judge Henderson question how a decision against immunity could not lead to “floodgates” against a number of former presidents. Trump’s main point after the hearing was that losing the immunity case would lead to “bedlam in the country.”

Court watchers predict that former President Trump is unlikely to win a legal action against his son, Smith, due to the three-judge panel’s questions. The panel appeared to hesitate to accept Trump’s arguments and appeared ready with tough hypotheticals. The Supreme Court will address any oversight in their rulings, and the panel may rule in favor of Smith.

If Trump loses this battle, he may have helped himself by slowing down proceedings, as the trial date is set for March 4. Delaying proceedings until after the presidential election is crucial for Trump’s political prospects.


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