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Trump v. United States: A Blueprint for Tyranny and the Threat to American Liberty

Trump v. United States: A Blueprint for Tyranny

The Existential Threat to American Liberty

The 2024 United States presidential election is a pivotal moment in American history. It has significant implications for the future of American liberty and the integrity of its democratic institutions. The Supreme Court decision in Trump v. United States examines the extent of presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for actions taken during a president’s tenure. This decision highlights the potential dangers of unchecked executive power.

Presidential Immunity and Legal Loopholes

Former President Trump has a history of exploiting legal loopholes. He might argue that any criminal actions he commits are official, using the presumption of immunity to his advantage. This could allow him to act first while legal decisions take years. Given his age and the current political landscape, this poses immediate dangers.

Official vs. Unofficial Acts: A Smokescreen

The Supreme Court’s focus on distinguishing official from unofficial acts hides broader issues:

  • Laundering Unofficial Acts: Unofficial acts can be funneled through official processes, making them immune from prosecution. This process can turn clearly criminal behavior into acts protected by presidential authority.
  • Presumption of Official Acts: All presidential acts are presumed official at first. The government must prove otherwise, which can take years.
  • Unreviewable Pardon Power: Chief Justice Roberts stated that presidential pardons are unreviewable by Congress and the courts. This means a president could potentially pardon themselves for any crimes, including those deemed unofficial.

Implications of Unreviewable Pardon Power

If courts and Congress cannot review presidential pardons, a president could pardon themselves after committing criminal acts. This includes:

  • Unofficial Acts: Even if acts are unofficial and criminal, a president could still pardon themselves, avoiding legal consequences.
  • Presumptively Official Acts: Acts considered official but later indicted could also be pardoned. The lengthy litigation process ensures delayed prosecution.

Activist Supreme Court Majority

The current Supreme Court majority has shown tendencies that align with Trump’s interests:

  • Sympathy for January 6 Actions: At least two justices, or their spouses, have shown sympathy for the January 6 coup attempt.
  • Kavanaugh’s Threats: Justice Brett Kavanaugh openly threatened Democrats during his confirmation hearings, suggesting a personal vendetta.

Lack of Accountability Due to Age

Trump, at 78, is unlikely to face accountability for any questionable acts due to his age. The slow pace of litigation and his advancing age mean he may never be held responsible.

A President Above the Law

The Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. United States creates a situation where the president operates above the law.

How Trump Could Exploit Presidential Power to Evade Prosecution

This analysis is based on a hypothetical scenario discussed during arguments at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Judge Florence Pan asked Trump’s lawyer, John Sauer, if a president could order SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival and still be immune from prosecution. This hypothetical was used to challenge the extent of presidential immunity being claimed by Trump’s legal team. Here’s how Trump could potentially exploit this situation to evade prosecution.

Scenario 1: Laundering an Unofficial Act

Trump decides, for whatever reason, that he wants to murder certain members of Congress. He calls his Secretary of Defense and asks him to document this decision as an official act of the presidency, claiming these lawmakers are a danger to national security and are colluding with terrorists. Even though Trump is lying, he has now laundered an act that would typically be considered unofficial through the official machinery of the White House. By framing this act as a national security imperative, he transforms it into an official duty. This manipulation allows Trump to shield the act from immediate legal scrutiny by leveraging the presumption of presidential immunity.

Scenario 2: Indictment and Presumption of Official Acts

The members of Congress are murdered. Congress appoints a special counsel who begins an investigation, which may take years to complete. Before the investigation can progress, Trump goes to court and asserts that the presumption is that these murders are official acts. Consequently, the U.S. Justice Department indicts Donald Trump for the murder of members of Congress. This legal battle plays out over years, with many appeals that could go from the Supreme Court back to the district court. During this time, Trump continues to launder unofficial acts into official acts through a process that turns unofficial acts and crimes into presidential powers.

Scenario 3: Prolonged Litigation and Pre-emptive Pardons

After years of prolonged litigation, the special counsel successfully demonstrates that Trump’s actions were unofficial acts, thus there is no immunity. In response, Trump pre-emptively pardons everyone involved, including himself. The Supreme Court reaffirms in Trump v. United States that courts and the legislature cannot review presidential pardons. This decision solidifies the unreviewable nature of Trump’s pardons, even those of his co-conspirators and allies involved in his various criminal schemes.

Scenario 4: Retaliation and Further Abuse of Power

Angry and seeking retaliation against the special counsel for embarrassing him, Trump requests the Secretary of Defense to detain the prosecutors incommunicado, accusing them of collaborating with overseas terrorists without any proof. The investigators are now arrested under these false pretenses. With the investigators detained and Trump’s unchecked power solidified, he effectively becomes above the law, operating with impunity. At this point, who will step forward to hold him accountable? Given that he has gotten away with murdering members of Congress and kidnapping a U.S. special counsel incommunicado through false pretenses, the risk to democratic governance becomes starkly evident.

The Dangers of Unchecked Presidential Power

This hypothetical scenario demonstrates the severe risks and potential abuses of presidential power. By laundering unofficial acts through official channels, exploiting the presumption of immunity, using pre-emptive pardons, and retaliating against legal authorities, a president can evade prosecution and undermine democratic governance. The unchecked power threatens the rule of law and poses a dire risk to the integrity of the nation’s democratic institutions.