Judges seem skeptical of Trump's immunity claims, he says 'can’t have a president without immunity'

One Biden-appointed judge said that the argument would allow a president to resign rather than be impeached. 

Published: January 9, 2024 11:51am

Updated: January 9, 2024 2:05pm

The three-judge panel reportedly appeared skeptical on Tuesday as they listened to former President Donald Trump's arguments about how presidential immunity protects him from being criminally prosecuted on charges connected to the 2020 election.

"You can’t have a president without immunity," Trump told reporters at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel after the hearing, per CNN. "As a president, you have to be able to do your job.”

Trump's attorneys asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to completely toss the case as they contended that former presidents can only be prosecuted if they are impeached and convicted by Congress, The Hill reported.

However, the judges appeared to be likely to reject the immunity arguments. They stated that Congress may not always decide to impeach a president and if impeachment were required, it could stop prosecutors from acting on new evidence at a later date. 

"I think it is paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal laws," Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, said in court. 

Judge Michelle Childs, a Biden appointee, said that the argument would allow a president to resign rather than be impeached. 

The federal appeals court is hearing the case after the Supreme Court rejected special counsel Jack Smith's request for the high court to hear the case without first going to an appeals court. 

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