When you don't pay your attorneys, and then you don't pay the attorneys you had to hire because the first set of attorneys sued you for payment, you start to look like an absolute ganif to the legal community. Maybe that's why the XPOTUS could only find the kind of attorney who would advance a legal theory that surprised just about everyone in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday:
In a hearing before the D.C. Circuit Court, the former president’s lawyers argued that he should be immune from criminal prosecution for his role in the attempt to steal the 2020 presidential election. This argument has an obvious flaw: It implies that the president is above the law. Such a blunt rejection of the Constitution and the basic concept of American democracy is too much even for Trump to assert—publicly, at least—so his lawyers have proposed a theory. They say that he can’t be criminally prosecuted unless he is first impeached and convicted by Congress.
This argument is no less dangerous, as a hypothetical asked in court demonstrated in chilling terms. Judge Florence Pan asked Trump’s attorney, D. John Sauer, if “a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival” could be criminally prosecuted. Sauer tried to hem and haw his way through an answer but ultimately stated that such a president couldn’t be prosecuted unless he was first impeached, convicted, and removed by Congress.
In effect, Trump has realized that, just as none of his voters would desert him over murdering a man on Fifth Avenue, nothing he could do would be so bad that congressional Republicans would abandon him. He doesn’t need a majority, either. Under the argument his lawyers made in court today, all Trump needs is 34 Republicans who will vote not to convict, and that’s sufficient to guarantee he can act with impunity.
Yes, but what about that little logical flaw, the one that Judge Florence Pan saw immediately? Doesn't the argument admit something at odds with the XPOTUS's claim of absolute immunity? Well, yes, actually:
[Pan] 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.”
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.
I guess you don't have to represent yourself in court to have a fool for a lawyer. (He was going to do that, too, before the judge told him he'd go to jail for contempt if he speechified.) Then again, John Sauer has a fool for a client, so...