Trump tells Supreme Court prosecuting him is ‘de facto blackmail’ for future presidents – Washington Examiner

Donald Trump‘s attorneys warned in a brief filed with the Supreme Court on Tuesday that prosecuting the former president for actions he took while he was in office would be used as “de facto blackmail” against future presidents.

The argument came as part of the broader case Trump’s attorneys presented to the Supreme Court that special counsel Jack Smith‘s election interference case against the former president should be dismissed on presidential immunity grounds.

“The President cannot function, and the Presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence, if the President faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

The Supreme Court is weighing whether the Constitution has a built-in immunity provision that protects Trump from being criminally charged for allegedly illegally attempting to overturn the 2020 election and conspiring to obstruct the election certification. Two lower courts so far have rejected Trump’s sweeping claims of immunity.

The former president’s attorneys argued that all of the alleged conduct cited in Smith’s indictment constituted official acts of the president.

“A denial of criminal immunity would incapacitate every future President with de facto blackmail and extortion while in office, and condemn him to years of post-office trauma at the hands of political opponents,” the defense attorneys wrote.

They said Trump’s immunity “arises directly from the Executive Vesting Clause [of the Constitution] and the separation of powers.”

Notably, D. John Sauer, one of Trump’s lawyers, told an appeals court in Washington, D.C., earlier this year that a president could hypothetically avoid criminal liability for ordering Navy SEALs to assassinate a political rival, an example that stunned some legal observers.

Trump has also gained the support of three former attorneys general: Edwin Meese from former President Ronald Reagan’s administration, as well as John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey from President George W. Bush’s administration. Meese and Mukasey argued in briefs filed to the high court docket that the special counsel’s appointment was illegal, while Ashcroft supported Trump’s immunity argument.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Trump’s immunity claim on April 25. After that, legal experts have speculated, the high court could issue a decision on the matter in one or two months.

The high-stakes decision could result in the case being tossed out entirely or sent back to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where it originated.


If the Supreme Court rules against Trump, Judge Tanya Chutkan would immediately resume overseeing the case. A trial over the election interference allegations could occur as soon as a few months after that. If the high court rules fully in favor of Trump, the case would be dropped.

Smith’s response to Trump’s argument is due by April 8.

Kaelan Deese contributed to this report