Home News Fox News Offers Bonkers Proof of Why Taylor Swift Is a Psy-op

Fox News Offers Bonkers Proof of Why Taylor Swift Is a Psy-op

by News7

Taylor Swift, 12-time Grammy Award winner, Spotify’s most streamed artist in 2023, and Time Person of the Year, can add another line to her résumé: Democratic Party psyop. At least according to Fox News.

Fox host Jesse Watters, and frequent  Fox contributor Stuart Kaplan, spent Tuesday evening musing that the Biden administration may have been behind Swift’s recent post encouraging people to register to vote.

Right now, Fox is suggesting that Taylor Swift is a psyop because she posted a link to register voters. pic.twitter.com/liR06Qiq2C

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 10, 2024 “When she posted the link to the Vote.org, like hundreds of thousands of young Taylor Swift fans all of a sudden registered to vote,” Watters began. “I wonder who got to her, from the White House or from wherever?”

Kaplan went on to suggest that the administration had sought out Swift, “whether with [her] knowledge or without [her] knowledge,” to lend her 279 million Instagram followers for a “covert” get-out-the-vote initiative.

Watters, of course, offered no pushback on the psyops narrative.

For what it’s worth, 35,000 new voters registered on Vote.org as a result of Swift’s Instagram post in September.

It is hardly forbidden knowledge that the Democratic Party has made celebrity endorsements of its candidates part of its campaigning strategy. The 2020 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions were, to mixed reviews, studded with the stars of today and yesteryear. But Swift, whose forays into activism have been mostly limited to anodyne denunciations of Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn and the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning abortion rights, and support for Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ rights, has not been outspoken in her support for Joe Biden ahead of the 2024 election.

This, of course, has not stopped conservatives like Watters and Kaplan from indulging their obsession with Swift and their suspicion that her popularity among young people betrays, at best, a symptom of national decadence and impending decline and, at worst, a government conspiracy.

This is not even the first time Swift has been accused of participating in psyops; the far-right provocateur Jack Posobiec previously linked her to a “2024 voter operation for Democrats on abortion rights.”

Swift is only the latest celebrity to incur the wrath of the right. It once famously harnessed outrage at Colin Kaepernick and made it into a foundational block of its brand of reaction. But the obsession with Swift, about as inoffensive a cultural figure as exists in the United States, may just be the strangest.

Watters closed the segment by lamenting that he “now [knows] a lot more about Taylor Swift than [he] ever wanted to know,” but it’s clear that the right’s Swift-hatred is a product of its own making. As 2024 approaches, it’s yet to be seen whether this fixation will reap electoral rewards.

The Anti-Defamation League has made a startling confession: It is now including pro-Palestine marches in its count of antisemitic incidents in the United States.

The ADL released its annual antisemitism report on Wednesday, announcing that there were a stunning 3,283 such incidents in 2023. That’s a 361 percent increase compared to the previous year, according to the organization, which noted the “American Jewish community is facing a threat level that’s now unprecedented in modern history.”

The organization also stated that two-thirds of the total incidents could be “directly related to the Israel-Hamas war.”

The ADL report was widely covered by mainstream outlets like CNN, NBC, and Axios, which simply took the organization’s word for the gigantic increase without actually checking the data behind the claim.

Not all media outlets fumbled the ball, however. As The Forward first noted, there’s one big problem with the numbers: The ADL admits in its own press release that it includes pro-Palestine rallies in its list of antisemitic incidents, even if these featured no overt hostility toward Jewish people. Any anti-Israel or anti-Zionist chants are enough for the ADL’s new definition of antisemitism.

The report’s full list of antisemitic incidents isn’t public, but under the new definition, it could even count anti-Israel protests by Jewish activists as antisemitic. Many Jewish Americans have been at the forefront of the pro-Palestine protests over the last three months.

The 2023 report includes a whopping 1,317 rallies in its list of antisemitic incidents, with no clear distinction between whether the rallies included antisemitic rhetoric or anti-Zionist chants and without regard for whether there were Jewish organizers or participants involved. In other words, the underlying data in support of this assertion is likely to be considerably inflated.

Antisemitism is a real, and growing, problem—especially in the United States. But the ADL isn’t helping anyone when it defines a bomb threat at a synagogue and a Students for Justice in Palestine rally as equally antisemitic.

The problems with ADL’s reporting methods have been obvious for some time to anyone paying close attention. As Eric Alterman wrote for The New Republic, the ADL has, since its founding, repeatedly changed its counting method—and then followed these periodic rejiggerings with reports asserting massive increases in antisemitic incidents. Even more troubling, the organization habitually fails to make distinctions between the various antisemitic incidents it is tracking. Graffiti found on the walls of a college dorm gets lumped together with more deadly tragedies, such as the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The organization’s reporting has taken an even greater turn for the worse under chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt. In 2015, he began his leadership at the organization with a speech that made virtually no mention of the dangers of white Christian nationalism. And on Israel, Greenblatt in 2022 firmly announced: “Anti-Zionism is antisemitism, full stop.”

In October, an ADL researcher resigned over Greenblatt’s condemnation of Jewish Americans protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. But the next month, Greenblatt only doubled down on his position, when he said that pro-Palestine activism has “clarified and confirmed that fanatical anti-Zionism from the hard left is as dangerous to the Jewish community as rabid white supremacy from the extreme right.”

Along the way, Greenblatt has demonstrated a hesitance to criticize one of the more appalling antisemites in public life: Elon Musk. The two men’s strange alliance has drawn criticism from Greenblatt’s predecessor, Abe Foxman.

All that to say, the ADL’s new counting method isn’t a huge surprise. But it sure is disappointing to see so many media outlets take the organization’s word at face value.

The House tried to hold a hearing Wednesday on whether to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress, but things went off the rails so quickly that not much actually got done.

Instead, the members of the House Oversight Committee ended up taking wild swings at Biden—and at each other.

Here are five of the craziest things that happened during the hearing.

1. Nancy Mace said Hunter Biden has “no balls.”

Things got off to a strong start when Huner Biden himself appeared unannounced at the hearing. For some reason, this set off South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace.

“My first question is, who bribed Hunter Biden to be here today?” she demanded.

“Second question: You’re the epitome of white privilege. Coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed. What are you afraid of? You have no balls to come up here today.”

Mace: You’re the epitome of white privilege, coming into the oversight committee, spitting in our face, You have no balls to come up here and —

Moskowitz: We can hear from Hunter Biden right now

Mace: Are women allowed to speak?!? Hunter Biden should be arrested right here pic.twitter.com/4Ao8kNbfKm

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 10, 2024 2. Robert Garcia entered “dick pics” into the House record.

Biden left the hearing soon after Mace’s rant. His exit coincided with Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s opening remarks, much to her frustration. But her Democratic colleague Robert Garcia had a pretty good explanation for why Biden might not want to be in the room.

“I think it’s really interesting to hear the gentlelady from Georgia speak about Hunter Biden leaving, when she is the person that showed nude photos of Hunter Biden in this very committee room,” Garcia said. “Showing dick picks in this committee room of Hunter Biden!”

During a House Oversight Committee hearing in July, Greene tried to claim that Biden had engaged in sex trafficking and had listed payments to sex workers as a tax write-off. To support her argument, she held up poster-size prints of Biden’s nude photos, which she later also posted on X (then called Twitter) and shared in her email newsletter to unsuspecting subscribers.

Garcia: I think it’s really interesting to hear the lady from Georgia speak about Hunter Biden leaving and she is the person that showed nude photos of hunter Biden in this very committee room showing dick pics in this committee room pic.twitter.com/QoU2nxZhc0

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 10, 2024 3. Jamie Raskin called Marjorie Taylor Greene an “expert” in pornography.

Representative Jamie Raskin also couldn’t resist a jab at Greene for sharing Biden’s nude photos. Greene asked to enter evidence into the record, and Raskin objected due to the fact that Democrats had not received advance copies of Greene’s information.

“In the past, she’s displayed pornography. Are pornographic photos allowed to be displayed in this committee room?” Raskin asked.

When Greene said it wasn’t pornography, Raskin clapped back, “OK, well, you’re the expert.”

Raskin has previously criticized Greene for displaying Biden’s nudes during a hearing. In July, he accused Oversight Chair James Comer of undermining the committee’s credibility by allowing Greene to show the photos, saying the committee had been “reduced to the level of a 1970s-era dime store peep show.”

House Oversight erupts as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) asks to introduce evidence.

REP. RASKIN (D): “In the past, she’s displayed pornography. Are pornographic photos allowed to be displayed in this room?”

MTG: “It’s not pornography.”

RASKIN: “Ok well you’re the expert.” pic.twitter.com/1WiCSHU5yU

— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) January 10, 2024 4. Jared Moskowitz held up a photo of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.

At one point, the committee had to take a break from the hearing. Representative Maxwell Frost said on X (formerly Twitter) the recess was because Greene was “being unhinged.” He did not provide further details on what that meant.

Frost then shared a photo of Representative Jared Moskowitz holding up a poster-size picture of Donald Trump hugging convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

We had to pause committee because Marjorie Taylor Greene is being unhinged. While we wait, @JaredEMoskowitz is holding this up: pic.twitter.com/5QOp1qBqXK

— Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@MaxwellFrostFL) January 10, 2024 Trump was named on a recently released list of the disgraced financier’s known associates. Republicans have tied themselves into knots trying to shift attention off of Trump and onto other names on the list. (Being named on the list is not proof of legal wrongdoing.)

5. Republicans accidentally gave away their own game.

Toward the end of the hearing, Moskowitz pointed out that if the issue is that Biden won’t testify, it could be easily resolved then and there. After all, Biden was at the hearing.

But when Moskowitz asked for a show of hands from people who wanted to hear Biden’s testimony, almost no Republicans raised their hand.

“I’m a visual learner,” Moskowitz quipped. “And the visual is clear. Nobody over there wants to hear from the witness.”

“The majority of my colleagues over there, including the chairman, don’t want to hear from the witness with the American people watching.”

Moskowitz: Let’s vote. Let’s take a vote. Who wants to hear from hunter right now today? Anyone? Come on. Who wants to hear from hunter? No one. So I’m a visual learner. And the visual is clear, nobody over there wants to hear from the witness. pic.twitter.com/EpANiLntEb

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 10, 2024 Biden has offered to testify in a public hearing, but Comer rejected the offer almost immediately. He insisted Biden must first sit for a closed-door deposition, infuriating Democrats. Raskin slammed Comer’s response in November as an “epic humiliation for our colleagues and … a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case or the ability of their own members to pursue it.”

A Democratic representative skewered Republicans on Wednesday for seeking to penalize Hunter Biden for not responding to a congressional subpoena, when many members of the GOP have done much worse.

The House Oversight Committee held a hearing on whether to hold Biden in contempt of Congress, after he refused to comply with a subpoena to sit for a closed-door deposition. Biden has offered to testify publicly, but Republicans rejected his offer.

Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz tore into Republicans for wanting to hold Biden in contempt. “I’ll make this bipartisan. I’ll vote for the Hunter contempt today,” Moskowitz said. “You can get my vote, but I want you to show the American people that you’re serious.”

Moskowitz then proceeded to enter into the record subpoenas for multiple Republican representatives to testify before the House January 6 investigative committee. As Moskowitz pointed out, Scott Perry, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, and Kevin McCarthy all refused to appear before the committee.

“There’s an amendment coming to add some of those names into the contempt order. You vote to add those names, and show the American people that we apply the law equally, not just when it’s Democrats,” Moskowitz said. “Show that you’re serious and that everyone is not above the law.”

Moskowitz is very good at this. Here he is exposing GOP hypocrisy by brandishing all the subpoenas that Republicans recently refused to comply with. pic.twitter.com/ZFbIpV1v4p

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 10, 2024 Republicans, led by Oversight Chair James Comer, have insisted for months that Biden and his father, President Joe Biden, are guilty of corruption. The probe has yet to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by the president.

Comer issued subpoenas in early November to multiple members of the Biden family, including Hunter and his uncle Jim. He has repeatedly demanded that they testify. Hunter responded later that month, offering to testify in a public hearing.

Comer rejected the offer almost immediately and insisted the younger Biden must first sit for a closed-door deposition. His response frustrated Democrats, who felt Comer was moving the goalposts.

Republican Representative Nancy Mace had a bit of a freak-out on Wednesday when she realized Hunter Biden had shown up to a congressional hearing about him.

The House Oversight Committee held a hearing to hold the younger Biden in contempt of Congress for refusing a subpoena to sit for a closed-door deposition. Biden, when defying the subpoena, offered to publicly testify before the American people instead—likely so that his words wouldn’t be twisted by Republicans.

Whatever concerns the president’s son may have harbored about his Republican inquisitors not treating him fairly were confirmed after Mace reacted to his presence by launching into a truly unhinged rant.

“My first question is who bribed Hunter Biden to be here today?” the South Carolina representative began, implying that Biden may have been paid to attend a hearing about him.

“Second question: You’re the epitome of white privilege. Coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed. What are you afraid of? You have no balls to come up here today.”

A fight soon broke out in the committee as Democratic Representative Moskowitz pointed out that if Mace wanted to hear from Biden, he could testify publicly.

An outraged Mace began yelling back, “Are women allowed to speak in here or no?”

“I think that Hunter Biden should be arrested right here and right now and go straight to jail,” she demanded.

Mace: You’re the epitome of white privilege, coming into the oversight committee, spitting in our face, You have no balls to come up here and —

Moskowitz: We can hear from Hunter Biden right now

Mace: Are women allowed to speak?!? Hunter Biden should be arrested right here pic.twitter.com/4Ao8kNbfKm

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 10, 2024 As a reminder: Mace often pretends to be a moderate, but she has a long record of being a dedicated Republican culture warrior. For example, while she publicly criticizes her party on abortion, she dutifully votes for every abortion ban that comes to the floor.

She has also distinguished herself as someone desperate for media attention, which may explain her wild rantings. Her internal staff handbook was leaked last year, revealing that Mace’s North Star is whatever gets her a media hit. In fact, one aide surmised that she probably voted to oust Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy for no real reason other than to go on television.

Perhaps this newest meltdown is intended to get the attention of Donald Trump. After all, she’s pitching herself as his V.P.

Donald Trump and his lawyers are presenting increasingly unhinged defenses of the former president’s claim that he should be immune from criminal proceedings, as his legal team appears to scramble to keep up the argument.

Trump’s lawyers presented his case for immunity to a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, and to say it went badly for Trump’s team was an understatement. At one point, lawyer John Sauer bizarrely argued that a president could face criminal prosecution—say, for ordering Seal Team 6 to assassinate someone—only if he had been impeached and convicted first.

Trump attorney Alina Habba, who seems to have a habit of saying things that actually hurt Trump’s various legal cases, tried to defend Sauer’s defense that evening. She argued that Judge Florence Pan, who asked about the Seal Team 6 assassination, was using “hypotheticals that do not currently exist.”

“The real facts are so easy to win that we have to now argue the slippery slope argument of, ‘If he kills someone, will he be held accountable?’” Habba said on Fox News. “He didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t cause an insurrection. He didn’t get charged for it. But they’re using hypotheticals to frighten America.”

Saying that Trump hasn’t killed anyone—but he has the right to get away with it as long as Congress doesn’t impeach him—is a terrible argument. Pan’s question, moreover, was intended to demonstrate that there are certain cases when a president does not have immunity from criminal prosecution.

It’s also unclear what Habba meant when she said Trump “didn’t get charged for” causing an insurrection, because he has been—twice. Once when the House voted in January 2021 to impeach him for incitement of insurrection and again in August when special counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump for his role in the January 6 riot.

Trump has repeatedly argued that former presidents can’t be criminally charged for actions related to their official responsibilities. He did not explain how overturning an election was related to official presidential duties.

Despite insisting all day Tuesday that the immunity hearing had gone well, Trump launched into a social media rant that evening, during which he presented some wild defenses of his own. First, he said that losing immunity would prevent a president from enjoying “HIS OR HER ‘GOLDEN YEARS’ OF RETIREMENT” because they would be bombarded with lawsuits.

Then Trump said that if he lost immunity, then Joe Biden would too, hampering the latter’s ability to function as president. Finally, Trump said that losing immunity would mean “‘OPENING THE FLOODGATES’ TO PROSECUTING FORMER PRESIDENTS.”

“AN OPPOSING HOSTILE PARTY WILL BE DOING IT FOR ANY REASON, ALL OF THE TIME!” he wrote on Truth Social.

Trump, however, is the first president in history to face this many lawsuits post-office, and the first to face charges of this nature.

A Florida Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would essentially ban abortions altogether, going even further than the already draconian restrictions on the procedure in the Sunshine State.

State Representative David Borrero filed a bill Monday that would ban anyone from performing an abortion except to save the patient’s life. There are no exceptions for rape, incest, or if the patient is a minor. The bill would establish that personhood exists from the moment of fertilization.

The measure (H.B. 1519) states that a qualifying medical emergency would be “an emergent physical condition in which an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.” The bill makes no mention of what a patient should do if they miscarry and need to have the fetus removed, or if the fetus develops a fatal anomaly.

Under the bill, “performing or attempting to perform an abortion” is classified as a third-degree felony. Doctors who conduct abortions for reasons other than those allowed by the measure could face up to 10 years in jail, up to $100,000 in fines, or both.

The Florida Senate minority leader, Democrat Lauren Book, slammed the bill as a “desperate attempt at relevancy by the bill sponsor.”

“We are in arm’s reach of getting abortion on the ballot and restoring the rights they stole,” she told the Sun Sentinel. “Republican leadership knows this is no longer a winning issue for their party. Voters of all political leanings have shown and will continue to show their overwhelming support for women’s right to healthcare privacy and reproductive freedom.”

Florida currently bans abortion after 15 weeks. That law went before the state Supreme Court in September. If the court upholds the law, then an even more restrictive measure banning abortion at six weeks—before most people know they are pregnant—will go into effect. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the hugely unpopular bill in April.

If Borrero’s bill becomes law—a possibility, with Republicans controlling both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office—then it would supersede the six-week ban.

But there’s a chance that all of these laws will be defeated. Florida abortion advocates have collected enough signatures to put access to the procedure on the state’s 2024 ballot. The amendment would allow abortion access up until viability, or when the fetus can survive outside the uterus. This is generally estimated to happen at around 24 weeks.

The ballot initiative faces a major Republican challenge, though. State Attorney General Ashley Moody, a DeSantis ally, has asked the Florida Supreme Court to disqualify the amendment. She argues the language is misleading, claiming that the use of the word “viability” could have multiple meanings. The state’s high court will hear arguments on February 7.

More on Florida politics:

A federal judge on Tuesday set strict limitations on what Donald Trump and his attorneys can say during the former president’s upcoming trial for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll.

Trump will go on trial starting next Tuesday for comments he made in 2019, when he said Carroll accused him of raping her just to promote her memoir. Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan has already determined that Trump is liable for defamation, so the trial is primarily to set damages.

Kaplan issued an order Tuesday barring Trump and his lawyers from discussing Carroll’s choice of lawyer or who might be paying her legal fees. They are prohibited from making comments “concerning Ms. Carroll’s past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,” and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her.

Here’s the list of what he can’t offer as evidence, argument, or comments in the jury’s presence. And while it’s not everything Carroll’s side wanted, it might finally convince Trump that his testifying would be a bad idea. 3/ pic.twitter.com/XLayfVCVdA

— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) January 9, 2024 Trump’s legal team has argued that Carroll’s lawsuits are just another witch hunt against the former president. They claim her lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation to the judge) is biased because she has represented prominent Democrats, and that the whole lawsuit is being funded by a left-leaning billionaire.

Judge Kaplan had already ruled over the weekend that Trump can’t argue he didn’t rape Carroll. Although Trump was found liable for sexual abuse, Kaplan has repeatedly stated that Trump “‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”

In May, a jury unanimously found Trump liable for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her $5 million in damages.

Kaplan ruled in September that since Trump has already been found liable for sexual abuse, his 2019 comments are by default defamatory. Carroll is now seeking up to $12 million in damages.

Legal analyst Lisa Rubin noted Tuesday that Kaplan’s latest ruling might convince Trump not to testify in next week’s trial. Rubin explained that Trump’s testimony could result in higher punitive damages, and he might violate the order while on the stand.

Trump has already shown it will be difficult for him not to bring up Carroll’s past sexual experiences. Carroll wrote a popular sexual advice column in Elle magazine for nearly three decades. Just last week, over the span of about 30 minutes, Trump made 31 posts about Carroll on Truth Social. Among the many things he shared were media interview clips and social media posts that appear to come from Carroll, all stripped of context so as to paint her as some sort of sexual deviant.

More on Trump’s legal woes:

Less than three months into Mike Johnson’s tenure as speaker of the House, some House Republicans are already experiencing buyer’s remorse.

Texas Representative and Freedom Caucus member Chip Roy on Monday publicly raised the possibility of dumping Johnson as speaker.

Questioned by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Roy mentioned “colleagues that are really frustrated” with Johnson and alluded to “real conversations this week about what [House Republicans] need to do going forward,” calling the situation “[not] good.”

Collins: Does that include potentially moving to oust Speaker Johnson from his job?

Roy: Again, that’s not the road I prefer…

Collins: You said you don’t prefer it, but you did not say no. pic.twitter.com/59IqeIoLlo

— Acyn (@Acyn) January 9, 2024 And Roy is not alone. As Punchbowl News reports, some House Republicans have “significant concerns” about whether Johnson—the least experienced speaker in 140 years—is “in over his head.” At least one Republican claimed Johnson is “getting rolled even more than [ousted former Speaker Kevin] McCarthy did.”

Conservative dissatisfaction with Johnson stems from what some see as his acquiescence to President Biden and House Democrats on spending. Johnson over the weekend agreed to a $1.59 trillion spending deal for 2024. Under the deal, fiscal spending will be limited to what was mostly laid out in June’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, which averted a government shutdown at the time but also angered the Freedom Caucus and in part led to McCarthy’s ouster.

In the green but hard-line Johnson, Republicans like Roy saw a figure more amenable to their brand of austerity and obstructionism. Facing his first real test, however, Johnson seems to have failed in the eyes of some of his colleagues.

Now concerns over Johnson’s ability to lead are trickling out via anonymous quotes from “VERY well connected” House members.

Johnson’s rise from little-known Louisiana congressman to speaker of the House in the 23 days following McCarthy’s removal was seen as a win for the party’s right wing; Johnson’s 2020 election denial and social conservatism (he opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage and sees his election as divinely ordained) allowed anti-McCarthy holdouts to coalesce around his candidacy.

But the one-member threshold for vacating a House speaker, which McCarthy implemented and which led to his own ousting, is still in place.

And now, it seems Johnson’s days as speaker may be numbered.

One of Donald Trump’s lawyers on Tuesday made a shocking new defense of “presidential immunity”—and in the process accidentally destroyed one of the former president’s arguments for why he shouldn’t be charged for his role in the January 6 insurrection.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that he cannot be prosecuted for trying to overturn the 2020 election, because he has presidential immunity from criminal proceedings. His lawyers presented his case to a panel of three appellate judges in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

At one point, Judge Florence Pan asked if a president would be immune from criminal prosecution if he had ordered Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival. She noted that an order to Seal Team 6 would be an official act.

Trump’s lawyer John Sauer said the president could be prosecuted, but only if he had been impeached and convicted first.

That’s a terrifying interpretation on its own, but Pan took it one step further. She pointed out that this would mean presidents can be criminally prosecuted under certain circumstances. In other words, Trump does not have absolute immunity.

“Doesn’t that narrow the issues before us to…‘can a president be prosecuted without first being impeached and convicted?’” Pan said. “All of your other arguments seem to fall away.”

“Once you concede that there’s not this absolute immunity, that the judiciary can hear criminal prosecutions under any circumstances—you’re saying there’s one specific circumstance—then that means that there isn’t this absolute immunity that you claim.”

CLIP: Exchange on immunity between DC Circuit Court Judge Florence Pan and D. John Sauer, attorney for former President Donald Trump.

Judge Pan: “Once you concede that presidents can be prosecuted under some circumstances your separation of powers argument falls away…” pic.twitter.com/QYT8KoILkh

— CSPAN (@cspan) January 9, 2024 Pan also noted that Trump appeared to be trying to have it both ways. During his second impeachment trial, Trump and some of his Republican allies argued that the Senate shouldn’t convict him because he would face criminal prosecution later. But now, he claims he shouldn’t have to face prosecution, either.

If the appellate judges rule against Trump, then the case will likely head to the Supreme Court. This could delay Trump’s trial, which is currently set to begin on March 4, the day before Super Tuesday.

Trump was indicted in August for his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection and other attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He faces one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to corruptly obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against the right to vote.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and has insisted the case should be dismissed altogether. He argues that former presidents can’t be criminally charged for actions related to their official responsibilities. He did not explain how overturning an election was related to official presidential duties.

While many critics say Trump’s immunity claim is a desperate attempt to avoid accountability, it could also be an attempt to ease his path towards increased power. As Greg Sargent writes for The New Republic, “If he wins on this front, he’d be largely unshackled in a second presidential term, free to pursue all manner of corrupt designs with little fear of legal consequences after leaving office again.”

More on the immunity claim:

Source : New Republic

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