Donald Trump has requested dismissal of criminal charges regarding his coup attempt on the basis that he was conducting his lawful presidential duties. In a filing to Judge Tanya Chutkan, team Trump states that Trump’s actions were justified by his genuine belief that the election was stolen and it was his duty to protect the democracy by trying to murder it. “The indictment is based entirely on alleged actions within the heartland of President Trump’s official duties, or at the very least, within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official duties. As President Trump is absolutely immune from criminal prosecution for such acts, the court should dismiss the indictment.”
The filing also argues that Supreme Court precedent acknowledged that a president needed to be able to take “bold and unhesitating action” at times without fear of prosecution, and further, that the only lawful means of punishing a president is through impeachment conviction by the US Senate. “President Trump was acquitted of these charges after trial in the Senate, and he thus remains immune from prosecution. The special counsel cannot second-guess the judgment of the duly elected United States Senate.”
Trump might want to re-think this line of reasoning, as it can be decidedly inconvenient to allow a president to do anything without consequence. For example, if Joe Biden were to firmly believe that Donald Trump is a Russian spy and traitor, he could shoot Trump in the head. This would be an action taken “within the heartland of” Joe Biden’s presidential sworn duty to defend the United States against enemies, foreign and domestic. As president, he would be “absolutely immune from criminal prosecution for such acts”, and thanks to Supreme Court precedent, he should be able to take “bold and unhesitating action at times without fear of prosecution”. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, could decline to convict Biden, even if successfully impeached, and no prosecutor could bring charges because it would not be permitted to “second-guess the judgment of the duly elected United States Senate”.