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Supreme Court Must Strike Balance In Presidential Immunity Case: Turley

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Fox News legal analyst and Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley sounded upbeat about former President Donald Trump earlier this week during a discussion of his immunity case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

During a segment on Fox News, Turley argued that the nation’s high court must strike a balance in the case of presidential immunity, which the justices heard last month. He suggested that it’s important to protect future presidents while also ensuring they are held accountable for operating outside certain parameters.

Justices heard arguments from the prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office and Trump’s lawyers. The case is related to charges brought against Trump by Smith in Washington, D.C. Trump is accused of attempting to interfere with Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results, among other allegations.

“There is a slippery slope on both sides, but I was surprised with the three justices on the left, is that they didn’t seem at all concerned about how extreme that argument would be — leaving a president with no protection,” he told anchor Shannon Bream. “So the question that most of the justices were struggling with, and I thought they were doing in good faith, is how do we find a more balanced, nuanced approach here?”

“The government made a major concession to Justice Gorsuch when he said there are things you can’t criminalize that a president does, and the government said yes,” he continued. And he said, ‘Doesn’t it sound a lot like immunity? Isn’t it our job to try to define where that is?’ It was a devastating moment.

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He added: “So there is a real chance that this could be sent back to the trial court, to say we need more information of which of these acts were part of an official function, and which were not. That will take time and likely derail any effort to try Trump before the election in Washington, D.C.”

Turley has offered his perspective and legal insight on other cases involving the former president, including the current trial taking place in Manhattan, overseen by Judge Juan Merchan.

Turley claims that Merchan may have made a mistake by allowing prosecutors, under the direction of Michael Colangelo, a former official in the Biden administration who served as acting associate attorney general, to assert that Trump was involved in breaking federal election laws regarding $130,000 in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

The Federal Election Commission subsequently determined that those payments were not campaign-related, and federal prosecutors in New York found nothing improper when they examined the case around 2018.

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“I got to tell you, I think this judge may have already committed a reversible error,” Turley told “Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt. “He could try to amend it, he could try to change it in his instructions, but that jury has now been told repeatedly that there are federal election crimes here, strongly suggesting that the payment to Stormy Daniels did violate federal election laws. That’s just not true.”

He then turned his attention to former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who has served prison time for lying under oath but who is expected to be one of the prosecution’s star witnesses.

“Michael Cohen is literally going to tell that jury, ‘Please send my client to jail for following my legal advice,’” Turley said. “All of the stuff that they are talking about, he set up, he structured this and told his client that, ‘we could do this.’”

“It’s a bizarre moment,” Turley added.

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In a separate interview with Fox host Maria Bartiromo, Turley added: “Everything about this case is, in my view, legally absurd. You know, this case is basically a state misdemeanor that had run out under the statute of limitations.”

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