An argument fit for a king

That one of the Supreme Court justices didn’t just stand up during Thursday’s oral arguments and say ‘OK, this is absurd. Y’all need to stop it!’ is disappointing.


An attorney for former president and current criminal defendant Donald Trump stood in front of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices Thursday begging – like a dog, as Trump would say – for his client to have absolute presidential immunity.

The desire for immunity stems from the fact that Trump has nearly twice as many criminal indictments as the American flag has stars. And the need for the Supreme Court to even consider whether a president can effectively be above the law stems from the fact that a large swath of Americans have let themselves get brainwashed by a con artist – I’m talking about Trump, in case that isn’t clear – who leaves a trail of criminality in his wake.

No president has ever had to argue for absolute presidential immunity because no president has ever found himself so eyeball-deep in indictments and court cases.

The system, for every president this country has ever had, including Richard Nixon, has worked just fine. Yet we’re to believe that Trump, for some mysterious reason, is being so persecuted that the high court must step in to protect him?

Trump’s desire for absolute immunity is wildly self-serving

That one of the justices didn’t just stand up during Thursday’s oral arguments and say “OK, this is absurd. Y’all need to stop it!” is disappointing. That Americans had to listen to Trump’s lawyer actually argue that a president ordering the military to assassinate a political rival “could well be an official act” deserving immunity is … well, it’s just kooky.

That kookiness was unfolding while Trump himself sat in the defendant’s chair in a Manhattan courtroom listening to a guy named David Pecker, former publisher of the sleazy National Enquirer, testify about burying stories that might have harmed Trump’s chances in the 2016 presidential election.

Regarding a “catch-and-kill” arrangement that would hide allegations of an affair between Trump and Playboy model Karen McDougal, Pecker said: “We didn’t want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump, or embarrass or hurt the campaign.”

I feel embarrassed for all of us. 

As if that weren’t enough to make our brains hurt, a federal judge on Thursday upheld the verdict and the $83 million award against Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case, denying the former president’s motion for a new trial.

Where’s MAGA? Why aren’t the MAGA faithful protesting Trump’s trial/pity party?

The ex-president who cried ‘ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY!’

As a general rule, people asking for “absolute immunity” are going to be the ones facing the most legal trouble. That’s certain in Trump’s case. And when good, normal people look at the totality of Trump-related legal developments that happened IN JUST ONE DAY, it’s reasonable for them to ask: How the heck did we get here?

The answer is simple: We wound up in this position, with serious justices on the Supreme Court pondering whether it’s legal for a president to do a coup or two, because not enough Americans are immune to a con artist like Donald Trump.

It’s the same reason transparently grifty email scams still work.

It’s the same reason Trump hauls in barrels of cash by sending out transparently grifty emails asking for money.

It’s the same reason people get catfished online by workers from overseas crime syndicates and wind up losing their life savings. 

GOP becomes Trump’s piggy bank: With one letter, Trump turned the Republican Party into an extortion racket

Trump is suddenly facing consequences and, well, he doesn’t like that

Trump slithered and slunked his way through life, stiffing contractors, leveraging bankruptcy laws and evading consequences every step of the way.

He became president and, in the end, left office as the first president in American history to deny the results of a free and fair election. He juiced his supporters up with lies and watched as they attacked the U.S. Capitol to halt the peaceful transfer of power.

And now, as the aforementioned consequences loom larger than ever, he wants absolute immunity for all the things he denies he did, from a court that consists of three justices he put in place, so he can return to the office he defiled by sidestepping charges that should disqualify him from running for office in the first place.

Make sense? Of course it doesn’t.

Oval Office as ‘the seat of criminal activity’? Trump says, ‘Yes, please!’

During Thursday’s hearing, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson said: If “the most powerful person in the world with the greatest amount of authority could go into office knowing that there would be no potential penalty for committing crimes, I’m trying to understand what the disincentive is from turning the Oval Office into the seat of criminal activity in this country.”

I’ll answer that one: None!

And that’s exactly what Trump wants. He needs absolute immunity to either skate on or delay the charges he’s facing so he can get elected president again, then he wants absolute immunity so, if he wins, he can exact revenge on all he claims have wronged him.

It’s ridiculous. It’s a con. And anyone who hasn’t figured that out yet is, tragically, a big part of the problem.

No president – not Trump, not anyone – should be given absolute immunity.

Americans, on the other hand, need to quickly develop an immunity to con artistry. Ideally before we find ourselves ruled by a mad king.

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on X, formerly Twitter, @RexHuppke and Facebook

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