In a presentation that began with the words “This application is déjà vu all over again,” Trump’s lawyers argued that if a president can be criminally charged for actions taken while in office, “such prosecutions will recur and become increasingly common, ushering in destructive cycles of recrimination.”
“Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist,” they said, virtually arguing for an imperial presidency, one with unconstrained power.
Trump supporters have warned that if the appeals court ruling stands (and Trump returns to power), the reasoning that presidents cannot be immune from criminal prosecution could result in politics of vendetta, such as trying President Biden on issues — such as allowing a porous border which they say borders on criminal negligence.
In Monday’s application, Trump’s lawyers argued he should also be able to first appeal the decision to the full D.C. Circuit appeals court and then appeal that to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Appeal to the full DC Circuit will take the case before Judge Sri Srinivasan and 14 other justices.
It was the second time in a week that Trump has approached the Supreme Court, loaded 6-3 in favor of conservatives, seeking its intervention to further his political future.
In a separate case last week, the former President sought the court’s intervention in reversing a ruling from Colorado’s top court that he can be removed from the ballot in the state on grounds of insurrection. Oral arguments in the case indicated that the Supreme Court is inclined to reverse the ruling.
Trump also faces two other immediate legal challenges. One in Florida — where he was present in court even as his lawyers went to the Supreme Court — where he faces federal charges of mishandling classified documents and obstructing government efforts to retrieve them. And another in Georgia, where he faces charges of misconduct against a state prosecutor who implicated him in alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there.
While the cases are keeping Trump away from the campaign trail to a degree, they also serve to keep him in the limelight as he presents himself as victim of a political witchhunt.