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Day 1259

1/ The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Trump is entitled to “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution” for “official acts,” but enjoys “no immunity for unofficial acts.” The decision sends Trump’s federal election subversion case back to the trial judge to determine which – if any – of his actions were part of his official duties and thus protected from prosecution. “The president is not above the law,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. “But under our system of separated powers, the President may not be prosecuted for exercising his core constitutional powers, and he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for his official acts. That immunity applies equally to all occupants of the Oval Office.” Roberts noted that Trump asserted “a far broader immunity than the limited one we have recognized,” and “not everything the President does is official.” Trump faces four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction of an official proceeding, for his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden. The court’s decision likely ensures that Trump won’t be tried before the election, and if he is reelected, Trump is expected to order the Justice Department to drop the charges against him – or pardon himself. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing Trump’s Jan. 6 case, will now determine whether Trump’s actions, such as pressuring the Justice Department to investigate unfounded claims of widespread election fraud and urging Pence to refuse to certify the election results during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, are considered “official.” The court’s three liberal justices made clear in their dissent that they view the ruling by their conservative colleagues as a threat to democracy that will have “disastrous consequences.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote: “Today’s decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law […] The damage has been done. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law […] When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.” Trump, meanwhile, wrote on his personal social media platform: “BIG WIN FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / NPR / Politico / Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CNN / CNBC)

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