Trump lawyer Alina Habba defended the presidential immunity argument used by John Sauer, insisting to Sean Hannity that the former president “didn’t kill anyone.” Sauer responded with a “qualified yes” when asked whether a president could have a rival killed by the U.S. military and be immune from future criminal prosecution.
Impeached, not convicted
Trump’s attorney John Sauer told a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that the former president should have presidential immunity from any federal prosecution related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Sauer claimed Trump’s actions under investigation were undertaken in his official capacity as president and that the Senate did not convict him for them.
When Sauer was posed the hypothetical question of whether a president could be prosecuted if he ordered Navy S.E.A.L.s to assassinate a political rival, he responded by saying that the president would need to have been impeached and convicted by the Senate before he could be criminally convicted.
Attorney fires back
Hannity questioned Habba about the unusual defense, to which she replied by criticizing the judge for posing “hypotheticals that do not currently exist.”
“The real facts are so easy to win that we have to argue now the slippery slope argument of if he kills someone, [he] will be held accountable,” she insisted.
“He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t cause an insurrection. He didn’t get charged for it. But they’re using hypotheticals to frighten America.”
Open and shut
“This is a slam dunk case. He should have a map. Immunity and presidential immunity,” Habba added.
Sauer’s immunity claim received heavy skepticism from the three-judge panel and pushback from special counsel Jack Smith’s team.
Smith’s team rejects argument
James Pearce, an attorney with Smith’s office, condemned the notion, claiming it could bring an “extraordinarily frightening future,” adding, “What kind of world are we living in … if a president orders his SEAL team to murder a political rival and then resigns or is not impeached — that is not a crime?”
“I think that is an extraordinarily frightening future that should weigh heavily on the court’s decision,” Pearce stressed.
Maryland Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin ridiculed Sauer’s argument, telling CNN, “The presentation in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals before the three-judge panel was astounding.”
“Donald Trump and his lawyers essentially asserted that the president has the right to assassinate people, to kill people without any prospect of prosecution unless they’re first impeached by the House and convicted in the Senate.”