Donald Trump At ‘Disadvantage’ in Supreme Court Case: Libertarian attorney

Attorney Jonathan Turley told Fox NewsAmerica’s Newsroom on Thursday that former President Donald Trump is at a “disadvantage on the merits” of his claim of presidential immunity as the Supreme Court decides to hear his case.

The Context

The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday that it would hear an appeal from Trump’s legal team, arguing that Trump has immunity from prosecution for the events surrounding the January 6 Capitol because he was in office at the time.

On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., to stop the certification of Joe Biden‘s 2020 election win. The riot erupted following claims made by Trump that the election was stolen via widespread voter fraud. There is no evidence of these claims.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) later charged Trump for his alleged role in the riot. He faces four federal felony counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintains that the case is politically motivated as he is the GOP frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race.

Former President Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 24, 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservative attorney Jonathan Turley told Fox News’ America’s Newsroom on Thursday that Trump is at a…

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

What We Know

Turley, a legal analyst and professor at George Washington Law School who identifies as a libertarian, told fill-in anchor Gillian Turner on Thursday: “The Court accepted this for review. There are issues here. It is a long-standing debate. I think that Trump is at a disadvantage on the merits. But some of the justices may have serious questions of where to draw this line. That is to tell future presidents when they are or are not protected.”

In an email to Newsweek, Turley explained: “Some justices are likely to have ‘sticker shock’ with the sweeping claim of immunity raised by the Trump team. Conversely, others may have a similar rejection to the lower court opinion as lacking any clear lines for future presidents on the scope of the protection of immunity.

“This move may reflect a desire for greater line drawing on the use of immunity. In that sense, the Court could reach the same result but offer a different or more nuanced rationale.”

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign via email for comment.

The Views

Fox News also played a clip of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes during Turley’s segment.

“This is BS. You are doing this as a dilatory tactic to help your political friend, your partisan patron,” Maddow said. “And for you to say that this is something that the Court needs to decide because it’s something that’s unclear in the law is just flagrant, flagrant bullpucky. And they know it and they don’t care that we know it. And that’s disturbing about the future legitimacy of the Court.”

Turley responded to the clip: “This is why you have such anger. This is why people go to the homes of justices. This is what they hear in this echo chamber that the Court is a bunch of robotic partisan hacks … But they don’t hear the truth that the Supreme Court has ruled against Donald Trump, against conservative causes regularly, including the conservatives on the Court.”

The Supreme Court has been packed with conservative judges after three judges that Trump nominated during his presidency were appointed to the Court.

Trump said in a post on his social media platform Truth Social on Wednesday: “Legal Scholars are extremely thankful for the Supreme Court’s Decision today to take up Presidential Immunity. Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function, or make decisions, in the best interest of the United States of America.

“Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office. This could actually lead to the extortion and blackmail of a President. The other side would say, ‘If you don’t do something, just the way we want it, we are going to go after you when you leave office, or perhaps even sooner.'”

What’s Next?

The Supreme Court set oral argument for the week of April 22. The oral argument will be based on the question: “Whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

In the meantime, Trump’s D.C. case will be put on hold, which will further delay his trial.

Update 2/29/24, 10:18 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.

Update 2/29/24, 11:02 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information and to reflect that Turley is a libertarian.