During his campaign for president, Donald Trump said that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing voters.
Now, in a case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (and probably when appealed to the US Supreme Court), the president’s attorney William Consovoy told the three-judge panel that immunity would also temporarily shield Trump from prosecution for that act.
“This is not a permanent immunity,” Consovoy said, when asked by U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin to respond to a police investigation in “the Fifth Avenue example.” Judge Chin pressed Trump’s attorney if he means that, during the president’s tenure, “nothing could be done?”
Consovoy emphasized. “That is correct.”
Apparently, some people are upset with this. I cannot figure that out. It has been clear that Presidents since Harry Truman have enjoyed such immunity.
“Give em hell Harry“ as he was affectionately called, began the evolution of the President from agent of the law and the people, into Imperial Caesar we all want and love. First, came the so-called Korean War. Of course, that is a misnomer—Congress which alone has the power to declare war did not do so in that case. Without a declaration of war, many thought the “war“ was illegal. If there is no legal war, then the killing committed during it was not legal (killing in legal war so long as done in accord with the law of war is legal) but arguably was homicide.
Rather than repel in horror at this, Congress not only failed to reclaim its core and most important, existential power, the power to keep America out of unnecessary wars, but it actually delegated to the President the power to unilaterally launch nuclear war—which could result not just in homicide but omnicide—the killing of all humans. Had Truman exercised this power he really would have been giving “em hell.” As JFK later said, after nuclear war “the living would envy the dead.” And, almost certainly, soon join them as the poison spread and nuclear winter killed and poisoned the crops.
Even today the USA has 6,000 hydrogen bomb weapons ready to go in a world with only 512 cities of over one million in population, or about 11.7 hydrogen bombs for each city. These “new and more useable” bombs are much more powerful than those used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so one per city would probably do the trick! That would leave lots of “extras” to finish off smaller targets.
Every President since Truman has had this power. They routinely threaten it with impunity: that is what they all mean when, in times of “crisis” the White House issues the statement: “all options are on the table.” It means: “How do you like that you so and so [insert enemy d’jour here].” We can visit a “fire and a fury “on you the likes of which you have never seen. Every President since Truman has made such threats with impunity. In fact, we, their fellow citizens, cheer them on! Walking softly but carry a big stick? Hell no! Swagger around and threaten worldwide murder! That is giving em hell, ain’t I right?
Now I could be wrong, but in my study of the illegality of nuclear weapons, I have seen not a single President called to task on making nuclear threats. Rather, the making of such threats seems to have enhanced Presidential stature—somewhat ironically given the apparent usurpation of Congress’s role in war-making. So, the foundation was laid for Presidential immunity and impunity in war declaring and making.
Once the foundation is there, and the people and Congress acquiesce, mission creep soon extends the immunity and impunity to other areas. As each President builds on the claims of those before, the President becomes the King. And soon the King claim “the law, that is me!” And, once the King gets away with that, in no time he claims to be “above the law.” Shocked? Nah, this is a good thing.
No more “Vietnam Syndrome!” (Another undeclared “war.”) No more liberal pantywaist adherence to treaties or laws. Nah! Now the gloves are off! Now the President has risen above the Constitution’s directive that he “take care to faithfully execute the law” and has full power to do whatever is “necessary to defend the homeland” (or anything to enrich his royal coffers despite the “phony emoluments clause“). Let us all cheerlead this! The world will not have the USA to kick around anymore! Today the President on his sole authority does war all around the world, while scarcely breaking a sweat.
Yes, the President can not only murder someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and be immune from the bar of justice—he can kill everyone on Fifth Avenue, and every other street everywhere in the world, without concern. Knowing that such power exists, and can be exercised with impunity by our Lord and King ought to make you sleep soundly tonight! God save the King! To hell with the rest of you.