Why the ludicrous Republican response to Trump’s conviction matters

“Democrats didn’t convict Trump; a jury of 12 ordinary Americans did. The Biden administration played no role in prosecuting the case; the indictment came from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and was issued after federal prosecutors declined to go after Trump on similar charges.”

“The current Republican party is so hostile to the foundations of the American political system that they can be counted on to attack the possibility of a fair Trump trial. Either Trump should be able to do whatever he wants with no accountability, or it’s proof that the entire edifice of American law and politics is rotten.”

https://www.vox.com/politics/352814/trump-conviction-republican-response

The Supreme Court’s disastrous Trump immunity decision, explained

“Broadly speaking, Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion reaches three conclusions. The first is that when the president takes any action under the authority given to him by the Constitution itself, his authority is “conclusive and preclusive” and thus he cannot be prosecuted. Thus, for example, a president could not be prosecuted for pardoning someone, because the Constitution explicitly gives the chief executive the “Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States.”
One question that has loomed over this case for months is whether presidential immunity is so broad that the president could order the military to assassinate a political rival. While this case was before a lower court, one judge asked if Trump could be prosecuted if he’d ordered “SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival” and Trump’s lawyer answered that he could not unless Trump had previously been successfully impeached and convicted for doing so.

Roberts’s opinion in Trump, however, seems to go even further than Trump’s lawyer did. The Constitution, after all, states that the president “shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” So, if presidential authority is “conclusive and preclusive” when presidents exercise their constitutionally granted powers, the Court appears to have ruled that yes, Trump could order the military to assassinate one of his political opponents. And nothing can be done to him for it.”

“Roberts’s second conclusion is that presidents also enjoy “at least a presumptive immunity from criminal prosecution for a President’s acts within the outer perimeter of his official responsibility.” Thus, if a president’s action even touches on his official authority (the “outer perimeter” of that authority), then the president enjoys a strong presumption of immunity from prosecution.

This second form of immunity applies when the president uses authority that is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and it is quite broad — most likely extending even to mere conversations between the president and one of his subordinates.

The Court also says that this second form of immunity is exceptionally strong. As Roberts writes, “the President must therefore be immune from prosecution for an official act unless the Government can show that applying a criminal prohibition to that act would pose no ‘dangers of intrusion on the authority and functions of the Executive Branch.’”

Much of Roberts’s opinion, moreover, details just how broad this immunity will be in practice. Roberts claims, for example, that Trump is immune from prosecution for conversations between himself and high-ranking Justice Department officials, where he allegedly urged them to pressure states to “replace their legitimate electors” with fraudulent members of the Electoral College who would vote to install Trump for a second term.

Roberts writes that “the Executive Branch has ‘exclusive authority and absolute discretion’ to decide which crimes to investigate and prosecute,” and thus Trump’s conversations with Justice Department officials fall within his “conclusive and preclusive authority.” Following that logic, Trump could not have been charged with a crime if he had ordered the Justice Department to arrest every Democrat who holds elective office.

Elsewhere in his opinion, moreover, Roberts suggests that any conversation between Trump and one of his advisers or subordinates could not be the basis for a prosecution. In explaining why Trump’s attempts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to “fraudulently alter the election results” likely cannot be prosecuted, for example, Roberts points to the fact that the vice president frequently serves “as one of the President’s closest advisers.”

Finally, Roberts does concede that the president may be prosecuted for “unofficial” acts. So, for example, if Trump had personally attempted to shoot and kill then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in the lead-up to the 2020 election, rather than ordering a subordinate to do so, then Trump could probably be prosecuted for murder.

But even this caveat to Roberts’s sweeping immunity decision is not very strong. Roberts writes that “in dividing official from unofficial conduct, courts may not inquire into the President’s motives.” And Roberts even limits the ability of prosecutors to pursue a president who accepts a bribe in return for committing an official act, such as pardoning a criminal who pays off the president. In Roberts’s words, a prosecutor may not “admit testimony or private records of the President or his advisers probing the official act itself.”

That means that, while the president can be prosecuted for an “unofficial” act, the prosecutors may not prove that he committed this crime using evidence drawn from the president’s “official” actions.

The practical implications of this ruling are astounding. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor writes in a dissenting opinion, “imagine a President states in an official speech that he intends to stop a political rival from passing legislation that he opposes, no matter what it takes to do so,” it follows from Roberts’s opinion that the ensuing murder indictment “could include no allegation of the President’s public admission of premeditated intent to support” the proposition that the president intended to commit murder.

Monday’s decision, in other words, ensures that, should Trump return to power, he will do so with hardly any legal checks. Under the Republican justices’ decision in Trump, a future president can almost certainly order the assassination of his rivals. He can wield the authority of the presidency to commit countless crimes. And he can order a subordinate to do virtually anything.

And nothing can be done to him.”

https://www.vox.com/scotus/358292/supreme-court-trump-immunity-dictatorship

4 takeaways from the new Republican Party platform — or Trump’s playbook

“The party is leaving abortion up to the states, to decide how to rule on the contentious issue. The platform also takes credit for overturning Roe vs. Wade, the long-standing Supreme Court case that allowed abortions nationwide.”

https://www.yahoo.com/news/4-takeaways-republican-party-platform-023624611.html

Trump Blames Biden for Never Removing the Tariffs Trump Imposed

“The really frustrating thing about this is that Trump is fundamentally wrong about how tariffs work. He has been for a long time. Taxes on Americans are not going to change China’s behavior. That’s not theoretical. We have six years of real evidence. Tariffs are not saving American manufacturing. The trade deficit didn’t fall like Trump promised it would. China didn’t buy the larger share of American imports that were part of Trump’s supposed “phase one” deal. In the middle of Thursday’s debate, Trump even managed to confuse the trade deficit with the federal budget deficit (a mistake he’s been making for years).
If only Biden were in a position to highlight Trump’s clearly misguided views on trade and tariffs. But that would have required different choices over the past three-plus years (and a stronger debate performance from the president, who struggled at times on Thursday to be articulate).

Biden chose this outcome, and now we’re left with a choice between a candidate who doesn’t understand the fundamentals of trade policy and one who has foolishly gone along with that fantasy for political gain.”

https://reason.com/2024/06/28/trump-blames-biden-for-never-removing-the-tariffs-trump-imposed/

Trump Decries Disproportionate Drug Penalties While Threatening Dealers With Death

“Joe Biden “was a key figure in passing the 1994 Crime Bill, which disproportionately harmed Black communities through harsh sentencing laws and increased incarceration rates,” Donald Trump’s campaign reminded voters last week. If elected, Trump promised in a speech at the Libertarian National Convention two days later, he will free Ross Ulbricht, who is serving a life sentence for running Silk Road, an online marketplace used by illegal drug vendors.
Trump’s criticism of disproportionate drug penalties contradicts his own platform, which threatens defendants like Ulbricht with death. The former and possibly future president wants to have it both ways, slamming Biden for his long history as a zealous drug warrior while portraying himself as even tougher.”

https://reason.com/2024/05/29/trump-decries-disproportionate-drug-penalties-while-threatening-dealers-with-death/

The Comstock Act, the long-dead law Trump could use to ban abortion, explained

“On the one hand, Trump frequently claims credit for the Supreme Court’s decision eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion — and well he should, since the three Republicans he appointed to the Supreme Court all joined the Court’s 2022 decision permitting abortion bans. As Trump told Fox News last summer, “I did something that no one thought was possible. I got rid of Roe v. Wade.”
At the same time, Trump at least claims that he has no interest in signing new federal legislation banning abortion. When a reporter asked Trump if he would sign such a ban last month, Trump’s answer was an explicit “no.”

Behind the scenes, however, many of Trump’s closest allies tout a plan to ban abortion in all 50 states that doesn’t require any new federal legislation whatsoever.”

https://www.vox.com/abortion/351678/the-comstock-act-the-long-dead-law-trump-could-use-to-ban-abortion-explained