March 2, 2024

Former president Donald Trump’s lawyer argued that presidential immunity would cover the U.S. president ordering political rivals to be assassinated by SEAL Team Six.

During a hearing at a federal appeals court on Tuesday, Trump’s lead lawyer John Sauer made a sweeping argument for executive immunity, essentially saying that only a president who has been impeached and removed from office by Congress could be criminally prosecuted. Therefore, Sauer argued, the former president should be shielded from criminal prosecution.

One of the judges asked Sauer: “Could a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, and is not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?”

Sauer responded: “If he were impeached and convicted first… there is a political process that would have to occur.”

The court is considering an appeal in Trump’s election obstruction case after the trial judge already rejected these same arguments about the scope of presidential immunity.

Assistant special counsel James Pearce urged the panels of judges to reject Trump’s argument. “Never in our nation’s history until this case has a president claimed that immunity from criminal prosecution extends beyond his time in office,” he told the court.

The outcome of the arguments is expected to have major implications for Trump’s 2024 bid.