Trump Lawyers Defend His Constitutional Right To Shoot Someone On Fifth Avenue
Donald Trump's lawyers aren't saying he's a walking deity with absolute power who can command the sun to stand still in the sky until the Mexicans agree to fund his wall. That would be crazy, right? They're just saying the laws don't apply to him, so he's free to violate them at will for the duration of his term. Apparently, Donald Trump can shoot a man on Fifth Avenue, and not only will he not lose any voters, but no federal or state prosecutor can do anything about it. LITERALLY.
Attorney William Consovoy argued before the Second Circuit today that it is against the law for Trump's accountants at Mazars USA to comply with a New York state subpoena for his personal and business records under a doctrine of absolute presidential immunity from criminal investigation. Not only is Trump immune from prosecution, his lawyers are actually arguing that it is UNLEGAL to investigate a sitting president. In their view, Trump is, in fact, entirely above the law.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed eight years of financials from Mazars and the Trump Organization as part of his investigation of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election. You'll recall that Michael Cohen fronted the $130,000 to Daniels and another $50,000 to a Liberty University tech bro to rig online polls for Donald Trump, both of which counted as campaign finance donations. The money was reimbursed, with additional money to cover his tax liability, as a series of $35,000 monthly retainer payments from the Trump Organization. All of which Rudy Giuliani memorably admitted on live teevee to a horrified Sean Hannity.
And now Vance wants to know if the Trump Organization deducted those payments -- which were, after all, reimbursements for an illegal campaign donation -- as business expenses. So let's remember, while Consovoy is out there orating about lofty presidential prerogatives, we're really talking about a grubby attempt to launder money through a family business to keep a porn star quiet about the time she saw Trump's Yeti pubes. Allegedly.
US District Judge Victor Marrero delivered a massive, well-deserved dick-kicking two weeks ago, ruling that he had no jurisdiction over New York State law enforcement officials and dismissing the case. But in the bizarre event that the Second Circuit and/or the United States Supreme Court should happen to decide that he does have jurisdiction, Judge Marrero pre-issued a ruling saying that Trump is full of crap and needs to hand over his documents immediately. And for good measure, the judge opined that those Justice Department memos saying that a sitting president can't be indicted are also full of crap and not binding on the judiciary.
But it probably won't come to that, at least not yet. The three-judge panel hearing the case this morning seemed incredulous that Consovoy would argue that a sitting president can't be investigated for murder. They're likely to let the trial decision stand. So, it will be up to the Supreme Court, which was basically inevitable.
It's hard to imagine that five Justices would magically decide that Younger abstention -- the doctrine that federal courts should keep their gavels out of state court matters -- doesn't count when the president is a Republican. But the entire world is crazy right now, so who the hell even knows? We'll find out soon, since Vance has promised not to enforce any subpoena yet if Consovoy will agree to request an expedited hearing at SCOTUS.
You can listen to the entire hearing here on C-SPAN if you want to see a very good lawyer make a very bad argument.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.