As a candidate in 2016, Donald Trump once boasted that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
At the time, I remember thinking that even his admirers would find this obnoxious, and some would be so offended that they would switch to another candidate who was less egomaniacal (or does one mean megalomaniacal).
But I was wrong. Although he lost the popular vote, benefited from foreign interference on his behalf and domestic manipulation of the voting process, he did, indeed win the presidency, with 46.1 percent of the popular vote.
And now, apparently, it is his legal position that he could stand in the middle of the 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and he could not be investigated, let alone prosecuted.
This is not a joke. He didn’t say it (yet), but on Wednesday one of his lawyers took the explicit, not metaphorical or hyperbolic but actual legal position that if President Trump shot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue he would be immune from prosecution, at least during his presidency.
Really. Not kidding. Trump’s private attorney William S. Consovoy was actually trying to argue only that Trump didn’t have to turn over any of his tax or business records. (I leave it to you to consider why Trump is so desperate to keep those secret.)
But Consovoy made such an extreme claim of presidential immunity from any legal accountability or necessity to cooperate with any subpoena or court order or any such thing, that one of the judges hearing the case to decide whether Trump could be ordered to turn over tax and business records actually asked whether Consovoy’s claim of presidential immunity was so total that Trump could literally shoot someone in plain sight and not be held accountable in any way.
“Local authorities couldn’t investigate? They couldn’t do anything about it?” Judge Denny Chin asked. “Nothing could be done? That is your position?”
“That is correct,” Consovoy answered, emphasizing that the immunity applied only while Trump is in office.