Donald Trump’s lawyers on Wednesday argued that as long as he’s president, Trump can gun down innocent pedestrians in the middle of the street with impunity.
“Would we have to wait for impeachment?”, Carey R. Dunne, the Manhattan district attorney’s general counsel, asked, during proceedings tied to Trump’s appeal of a ruling that required his accountant to comply with a subpoena seeking nearly a decade of personal and corporate tax returns.
Dunne was referring to Trump’s infamous claim from the campaign trail. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” Trump said in 2016. “It’s, like, incredible”, he added.
It is “incredible”. And, according to William S. Consovoy, an attorney for Trump in the state case, Trump wouldn’t just retain all his voters after a hypothetical murder spree, he’d retain his freedom too. In fact, he wouldn’t even be investigated.
Denny Chin, one of the three judges on the federal appeals panel reviewing the case, asked Consovoy to clarify his position.
“Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?”, Chin asked. “Nothing could be done? That’s your position?”
“That is correct”, Consovoy said. “That is correct”. (He said it twice.)
Earlier this month, a lower court in Manhattan called the president’s contention that he is immune from criminal investigations “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values”.
The Supreme Court has never ruled on whether sitting presidents are immune from prosecution while in office, but they may have to, lest Trump should get the idea he can just roam the streets of the capital with a rifle.
“This case seems bound for the Supreme Court”, one of the other judges on the federal appeals panel said Wednesday.
SCOTUS don’t fail us now! Get this one wrong and Trump will get to live out any Grand Theft Auto fantasies he might be harboring.
And hell, with the GOP reluctant to countenance impeachment, and Trump repeatedly “joking” about serving as many as four terms, Fifth Avenue could be a dangerous place until at least 2032.