Headline RoundupJanuary 9th, 2024

Appeals Court Hears 'Absolute Immunity' Argument From Trump Team

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Former President Donald Trump’s legal team argued before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that Trump has “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution.

The Argument: Trump’s legal team claimed that a former president can only face prosecution if they are impeached and found guilty by the Senate. Trump was impeached twice during his presidency but found not guilty both times. Trump’s lawyer also accused President Joe Biden of “prosecuting his number one political opponent and his greatest electoral threat.”

For Context: In August 2023, the Department of Justice charged Trump with four crimes relating to the 2020 presidential election.

Details: During the hearing, one of the three judges on the appeals-court panel, Judge Florence Pan, pressed Trump’s lawyer on the immunity argument by asking if a president could “order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival.” Trump’s lawyer indicated the president would need to be impeached before being criminally charged. The judge followed up, asking, if the president were “not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?” The lawyer responded that the president would need to be “impeached and convicted first.”

How the Media Covered It: Outlets across the spectrum agreed that the judges did not appear convinced by Trump’s argument. The Hill (Center bias) stated the judges “appeared broadly skeptical” of Trump’s argument. The New York Times (Lean Left bias) stated the judges “appeared unlikely to grant the former president’s request.” Fox News (Lean Right bias) reported the judges “appeared to be skeptical of” the immunity argument.

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