Albert Alschuler Writes About Presidential Immunity

Why No “Plain Statement Rule” Bars a President’s Prosecution for Murder

In 2016, with the Iowa caucuses fast approaching, presidential candidate Donald Trump famously boasted: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible.”

We didn’t know then that Trump could have been referring not only to Iowa voters but also to the justices of the Supreme Court.

Last week’s Supreme Court argument concerning Trump’s January 6 prosecution considered both his claim of “absolute immunity” from prosecution for acts within the “outer perimeter” of his official responsibility and a supposed “plain statement rule” that could allow a president to get away with serious crimes.

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President Trump