Donald Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters,” and now the president’s lawyers have argued in court that if he did, he could not be investigated or prosecuted while in office.
The argument came as Trump’s attorneys fight Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s subpoena of the president’s tax records, Politico reported, and stems from the position that Trump “has absolute immunity from criminal indictment or investigation.”
Even if Trump did murder someone in public, attorney William Consovoy argued before a panel of three judges from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, prosecutors would have to wait for the president to leave office before they could investigate or charge him.
“Once a president is removed from office, any local authority” could prosecute him, he said. “This is not a permanent immunity.”
Judge Denny Chin sought clarification on what Consovoy believed would happen while Trump still occupied the White House, asking, “Nothing could be done, that’s your position?”
Consovoy responded: “That is correct.”
Vance subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns as part of his investigation into hush-money payments made by Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Daniels alleged that she and Trump had an affair.
Trump’s attorneys sought to block the subpoena, but federal Judge Victor Marrero tossed the lawsuit, saying Trump’s claim to be immune from criminal investigation was “extraordinary” and not held up by the law.
The exchange between Consovoy and Chin came after Trump appealed Marrero’s decision.
Politico said the case is expected to ultimately reach the Supreme Court.