Advocates warn of danger as Trump seeks immunity from Supreme Court in election fraud case

Advocates are warning of potential danger if the U.S. Supreme Court grants former President Donald Trump immunity from a federal criminal case against him for his alleged involvement in trying to overturn the 2020 election. 

Trump requested that the high court halt his election interference trial set for next month on the basis that he is “immune” from criminal prosecution.

Markus Batchelor, national political director at People For the American Way, told theGrio that this is “another classic attempt by former President Trump to subvert the law.”

Trump, he said, “understands that the only way for him to evade accountability is to delay the trial and hope that he gets re-elected to the White House.

Donald Sherman, senior vice president for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told theGrio that the former president believes he is above the law and “that the law should not apply to him because he was president.”

“Trump uses every procedural legal tool at his disposal, legitimately or otherwise, to delay any litigation that would result in holding him accountable,” said Sherman.

On Monday, Trump’s legal team asked the justices to pause a lower court’s ruling, arguing that the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner is immune from prosecution for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election while in office.

In August 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Trump on felony charges after he allegedly tried to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power to then-President-elect Joe Biden by inciting a riot on Jan. 6, 2021. 

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. is seen in June when, in a groundbreaking decision, the court overturned the use of affirmative action in the college admissions process. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstructing an official proceeding, and conspiracy. 

A trial date for the case was set for March 4, 2024, which will likely be delayed given this most recent petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Following Trump’s indictment, his legal team filed several motions to dismiss the case, citing that he was immune from criminal prosecution. However, the district court denied those requests.

In December 2023, a district court ruled that Trump could face criminal charges for official acts committed during his time in the Oval Office – even if the president was acquitted of the alleged conduct during an impeachment proceeding. Shortly after that verdict was reached, Trump’s legal team appealed.

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals issued a decision that was in line with the district court’s verdict. An excerpt from the opinion read that “there is no functional justification for immunizing former Presidents from federal prosecution.”

Trump’s legal team then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, citing that the lower courts erred in their decisions.

An excerpt from the brief reads that the district court’s ruling is a “stunning breach of precedent and historical norms.” The petition continued, “In 234 years of American history, no President was ever prosecuted for his official acts.”

Trump’s legal team also said that if he is not granted immunity, it will threaten “every future president” who would be subjected to “years of post-office trauma at the hands of his or her political opponents.”

Batchelor of People For the American Way, a progressive advocacy group, said the arguments presented by Trump’s legal team “are beginning to fall apart.”

“The popular opinion, both legal and otherwise, is that the president of the United States is accountable for the law, just like every other citizen of the United States,” he said.

Jonathan Miller, chief program officer at Public Rights Project, told theGrio that the arguments presented by Trump’s legal team “are not valid” and “dangerous.”

Miller added that Trump’s arguments are “wildly inconsistent with the constitution and the rule of law and, if accepted, would be incredibly problematic for our country.”

Pres. Donald Trump,
HOUSTON, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 02: Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign rally at Trendsetter Engineering Inc. on November 02, 2023 in Houston, Texas. Former President Trump’s visit to Houston marks his second stop in Texas since earlier this year. The visit comes as his sons Don Jr. and Eric testified at his civil fraud in New York trial today. Trump may be forced to sell off his properties after a judge ruled that he committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Sherman of CREW told theGrio that the decision handed down by the circuit court was “strong.”

He said it would be “shocking” if the Supreme Court “took on the case or ruled in Trump’s favor.”

Batchelor said that it is imperative that Trump be held responsible for allegedly interfering with the 2020 presidential election to protect “the integrity and security of democracy.”

If Trump has his way and avoids trial, he said, “We should expect events like Jan. 6, 2021, and the saga that spilled out after the 2020 presidential election to just be a dress rehearsal for the days we have ahead of us.”

Trump’s petition to the Supreme Court comes just days after the justices heard hours-long oral arguments in the Donald Trump v. Norma Anderson case to decide whether the former president should remain on Colorado’s presidential primary ballot.

The state’s Supreme Court ruled that Trump could be barred from the ballot for violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits someone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution from holding office if they engage in an insurrection or rebellion.

Many expect that the majority-conservative court, of which Trump appointed three conservative justices – Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil Gorsuch – will rule in his favor.

Batchelor said Trump will continue to “leverage the justices he appointed” and “try to leverage the system to delay accountability.”

However, he hopes in the case related to whether he is immune from criminal indictment, the justices will agree with the decision of the lower courts.

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Advocates are concerned about the potential danger if the U.S. Supreme Court grants former President Donald Trump immunity from a federal criminal case against him for his alleged involvement in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Trump requested to halt his election interference trial, claiming immunity from criminal prosecution. His legal team filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and grant immunity. However, lower courts had ruled that Trump could face criminal charges for official acts committed during his time in office. Trump’s legal team argued that the ruling was a breach of precedent and historical norms. Advocates and legal experts believe that Trump should be held accountable and that his immunity argument is not valid and dangerous. They also express concern that granting immunity could set a dangerous precedent for future presidents. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, will have to decide on this case. Advocates hope that the Supreme Court will agree with the decision of lower courts and hold Trump accountable for his alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election.

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