President Donald Trump's attorneys think that the president is immune from any kind of criminal investigation and they've got Trump believing it.
The Washington Post reported that the letter from Trump's private legal team, headed by William Consovoy, makes the argument that a judge has already thrown out once this week. The federal courts said this week that Trump must produce his taxes, prompting his team of lawyers to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. Oddly, however, they made the same argument in the appeal that was already thrown out by the previous judge.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero dismissed a Trump lawsuit designed to block him from being forced to comply with any subpoenas.
“The Court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the President above the law with the text of the Constitution,” or any precedent, Marrero said.
“The President is immune from criminal process while in office, and a grand-jury subpoena (a coercive order backed by the State’s threat of contempt) is certainly a form of ‘criminal process,’” the letter said.
In fact, Trump is immune from being indicted by the Justice Department according to an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel. It isn't a law that protects the president, in fact, far from it. The Constitution outlines the process of impeachment, which isn't a prosecution, despite Trump's demand for a trial.
In a filing Friday, Trump tried to claim he, as president, he is far too important to be prosecuted while he's in the presidency.
The argument largely doesn't hold water because the subpoena isn't for him, rather it's for his taxes. There's no criminal prosecution involved in the case, it's simply that Trump is trying to ignore a subpoena to produce documents. The case is also state-related, involving Trump's possible falsification of business records related to a scandal to silence two women he had affairs with and then paid off.
“If the Court holds that the President is not immune from state criminal process, then Presidents must contend not just with [Vance] but with every state and local prosecutor across the country” seeking to investigate them, Trump’s attorneys said in the letter.
According to Trump, only Congress can investigate him through impeachment. However, this week, Trump's lawyers sent a letter to Congress saying that he deserves "due process" and not having the right to defend himself in court is unconstitutional. The impeachment process is fairly detailed about the process in the Constitution.
“Investigating the President plainly violates the Supremacy Clause,” where the Constitution says federal authority always supersedes the states, Trump’s attorneys said. “That Clause mandates that States cannot ‘defeat the legitimate operations’ of the federal government.”
It's an ironic argument, given the Republican Party has long been the "states rights" party.
The Justice Department filed their own letter in support of Trump, but they wouldn't say whether local or state prosecutors could legally seek documents from a president.
“Presidential materials ‘should not be treated as just another source of information,’” the Justice Department said in the letter, with a citation of a previous ruling on subpoenas under a presidency. “A subpoena directed at a President’s records should be permitted only ‘as a last resort.’"
Sadly for the president, the Justice Department made the argument for the opposition. Trump has made the subpoena the last resort, refusing to cooperate with any investigations, any requests for documents, access to any witnesses or any questioning.
“The court should be ordered to stay enforcement of the subpoena as to the President’s personal records unless and until — at a minimum — the District Attorney is able to make the required showing of particularized need,” the Justice Department claimed.
On Oct. 23, a three-judge panel will hear arguments in the case.