Rule of Law

RELEASE: D.C. Circuit Judges Troubled by Trump Arguments That Would Undermine Presidential Accountability

WASHINGTON, DC – Following oral argument at the D.C. Circuit this morning in Blassingame v. Trump, a case in which the D.C. Circuit is considering whether former President Donald Trump is entitled to absolute presidential immunity from damages liability for allegedly inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol, Constitutional Accountability Center Vice President Praveen Fernandes issued the following reaction:

While the judges navigated a stream of hypotheticals that tried to probe the outer limits of official presidential conduct, the conduct at issue in this case—alleged incitement of a violent riot to disrupt the counting of electoral votes in a joint session of Congress—is nowhere near those outer limits. And as we argued in our amicus brief on behalf of legal scholars, absolute immunity does not shield presidents sued in their personal capacity from damages liability for unofficial acts.

Significantly, the judges at today’s argument seemed troubled by arguments advanced by the Trump legal team, arguments that, if accepted, would be deeply damaging to any commonsense notions of accountability.  In this instance, it is particularly galling to see Trump attempt to cloak himself in a notion of immunity that has roots in separation of powers when the acts alleged are about interfering with the discharge of duties (counting electoral votes) that the Constitution and federal law assign exclusively to another branch of government. Granting immunity in this case would not honor separation of powers, but rather would make a mockery of it.

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Resources:

Case page in Blassingame v. Trump: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/blassingame-v-trump-2/

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a nonpartisan think tank and public interest law firm dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text, history, and values. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org

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