Fridays with Nicole Sandler

Welcome to the Good Friday – Happy Birthday Marcy edition of Fridays with Nicole Sandler.

This weekend will be a bit quiet due to holiday observations and celebrations.

Worse than Segretti: Judge Recommends John Eastman Be Disbarred

Close to the end of Yvette Roland’s recommendation that John Eastman be disbarred, she considered the argument from the Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar of California (OCTC) that Eastman’s actions were worse than those Donald Segretti committed for Richard Nixon.

For a number of reasons — Eastman’s violations were done in the function of an attorney, Eastman exhibited no remorse, he’s more experienced than Segretti was — she agreed that Eastman’s actions were worse, and on that basis, she recommended a stiffer penalty than the two year suspension Segretti got.

In Segretti, the attorney pleaded guilty to two federal offenses related to his work on
President Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign, including violating 18 U.S.C. section 612
(publication or distribution of political statements) and 18 U.S.C section 371 (conspiracy).
Among other things, Segretti distributed letters containing false accusations about other
candidates for president in order to create confusion among the candidates. The court found
Segretti’s actions involved moral turpitude as he “repeatedly committed acts of deceit designed to
subvert the free electoral process.” (Id. at p. 887.) Segretti had significant mitigation. He was
only 30 years old at the time of the misconduct and thought he was acting under the umbrella of
the White House. The court emphasized that Segretti’s misconduct “was not committed in his
capacity as an attorney” and that he recognized the wrongfulness of his acts, expressed regret,
and cooperated with the investigating agencies. (Id. at p. 888.) Segretti received a two-year
actual suspension.

The scale and egregiousness of Eastman’s unethical actions far surpasses the misconduct
at issue in Segretti. Unlike Segretti whose offenses occurred outside his role as an attorney,
Eastman’s wrongdoing was committed directly in the course and scope of his representation of
President Trump and the Trump Campaign. This is an important factor, as it constitutes a
fundamental breach of an attorney’s core ethical duties. Additionally, while the Segretti court
found compelling mitigation based on his expressed remorse and recognition of his wrongdoing,
no such mitigating factor is present with Eastman. To the contrary, Eastman has exhibited an
unwillingness to acknowledge any ethical lapses regarding his actions, demonstrating an apparent inability to accept responsibility. This lack of remorse and accountability presents a
significant risk that Eastman may engage in further unethical conduct, compounding the threat to the public. Given the greater magnitude of Eastman’s transgressions compared to Segretti and
the heightened risk of future misconduct from his complete denial of wrongdoing, imposing
greater discipline than in Segretti is appropriate to protect the public and uphold public
confidence in the legal system.

To support that judgment, Roland went through each of eleven charges, finding that Eastman had dishonestly advised Mike Pence he could reject the electoral certifications, attempted to mislead two courts, and made public comments he knew or should have known to be false.

Roland did not find that the OCTC had proven that Eastman was responsible for the violence at the Capitol, actions that would be key to an obstruction charge under 18 USC 1512(c)(2) — though the Bar would not yet have access to much of the evidence that Jack Smith may one day present.

But Roland did find that the OCTC had proven that Eastman and Donald Trump conspired to disrupt the electoral count under 18 USC 371, parallel to count one of Trump’s indictment.

By contrast, OCTC has shown that Eastman conspired with President Trump to obstruct a
lawful function of the government of the United States; specifically, by conspiring to disrupt the
electoral count on January 6, 2021, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. To prove a violation of
18 U.S.C. § 371, it must be established that: (1) at least two people entered into an agreement to
obstruct a lawful function of the government; (2) by deceitful or dishonest means; and (3) there
was at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. (See United States v. Meredith
(9th Cir. 2012) 685 F.3d 814, 822.) “An agreement to commit a crime ‘can be explicit or tacit,
and can be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence, including inferences from circumstantial
evidence.’” (United States v. Kaplan (9th Cir. 2016) 836 F.3d 1199, 1212.)

The evidence clearly and convincingly proves that Eastman and President Trump entered
into an agreement to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress by unlawfully having Vice President
Pence reject or delay the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021.

[snip]

Upon consideration of the totality of the facts, the court finds weighty circumstantial
evidence demonstrating a collaborative effort between Eastman and President Trump to impede
the counting of elector votes on January 6, 2021, as articulated in Eastman’s memos.
(See United States v. Kaplan, supra, 836 F.3d at p. 1212 [an agreement to commit a crime “‘can
be explicit or tacit, and can be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence’”].) There is also
extensive direct evidence demonstrating that each party involved in this plan actively
participated in overt acts through in person meetings, communications with Vice President Pence and his counsel, and in public remarks to advance their shared objective—i.e., to have Vice
President Pence reject or delay the counting of electoral votes on January 6. Furthermore, the
court has previously determined, in the aforementioned counts, that Eastman’s actions were
carried out with deceit or dishonesty, as he was aware that his plan was unlawful and lacked any
factual or legal support. Here, all elements of 18 U.S.C. § 371 are established.
Based on this evidence, the court finds that OCTC has met its burden of showing by clear
and convincing evidence that Eastman violated section 6068, subdivision (a), by violating
18 U.S.C § 371 as charged in count one.

Eastman says he will appeal — in part, because he needs to work as a lawyer to pay lawyers to defend him in his Georgia prosecution.

As of now, however, he is provisionally stripped of his ability to practice as a lawyer.

Three Things: So Much Stupid

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

There’s a lot of stupid going on right now. Here’s an open thread to talk about it. Let me start off with three examples.

~ 3 ~

Ding dong, the witch is dead — Ronna McDaniel has been terminated less than a week after she signed a contract with NBC.

Even her agency dropped her.

I like journalist Sam Adam’s take:

Story at HuffPo: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nbc-fires-ronna-mcdaniel-election-lies_n_6602d903e4b06a4403a3e80a

NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde accepted the blame for McDaniel’s hiring though he noted it was a collective decision by “collective recommendation by some members of our leadership team” to hire the unindicted January 6 co-conspirator.

It’d be nice if folks who support democracy and a free press checked their investment portfolios for Comcast (Nasdaq:CMCSA) including their mutual fund holdings’ portfolios — and then sent letters to Investor Relations asking for accountability at Comcast and NBC for this stupid hiring decision which damaged NBC.

~ 2 ~

BlackRock CEO is fucking clueless about Millennials and Gen Z, spewing this crap:

You know what’s causing these two demographic groups so much economic anxiety? The two things which cost them the most: tuition debt and housing.

They can’t save for a house if they have tuition debt hanging over them. President Biden has steadily chipped away at this but it isn’t enough.

They can’t buy a house because there’s too little housing available which in turn drives up pricing. Sure, mortgages are pricey right now but if there’s not enough housing, mortgages aren’t the bigger problem.

Rental housing is also overpriced and getting worse; it’s been unaffordable for persons working a full-time minimum wage job for years thanks to continued corporate pressure to resist raising minimum wages at state and federal level for decades. This has begun to change but Millennials are digging their way out of a deep hole to amass savings.

One of the biggest contributors to rising rental housing costs is the commodification of housing as a tradeable asset in the form of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Investors treat REITs as if they should increase in value and payouts like other tradeable stocks.

Gee, guess what BlackRock’s funds include?

Fink also hasn’t gotten the memo that there is a growing wave of disability as a result of the COVID pandemic. People will need to retire earlier, not later, and his bullshit refusal to accept wealthier persons must pay more into Social Security is not going to help.

Side note: I can’t recommend using Fortune magazine at this time. The link to this story follows but be warned: Fortune changed its privacy policy and you will be forced to accept that policy in order to read the fucking privacy policy. Absolutely unacceptable dark pattern.

Source: https://fortune.com/2024/03/26/blackrock-ceo-larry-fink-boomers-fix-retirement-crisis-millennials-gen-z-economically-anxious/

~ 1 ~

Trump’s POS social media platform appears to have lifted older Mastodon source code and slapped on a new frontend, without having addressed vulnerabilities in the older source code or handled the open source licensing correctly.

source: https://mstdn.social/@stux/112163975507522652

This massive stupidity is what the new Trump Media & Technology group is based on — the stock for which began trading today.

I’m going to have to buy popcorn futures for this.

~ 0 ~

Once again, this is an open thread. Bring all the stray stupid here along with topics not covered by other posts.

Judge Scott McAfee Orders Fani Willis to Get Rid of Nathan Wade

Judge Scott McAfee just ruled that either Fani Willis and her office have to step down from the Trump prosecution, or Nathan Wade must go.

Ultimately, dismissal of the indictment is not the appropriate remedy to adequately dissipate the financial cloud of impropriety and potential untruthfulness found here. See Olsen v. State, 302 Ga. 288, 294 (2017) (“Dismissal of an indictment is an extreme sanction, used only sparingly as a remedy for unlawful government conduct.”) (quoting State v. Lampl, 296 Ga. 892, 896 (2015)). There has not been a showing that the Defendants’ due process rights have been violated or that the issues involved prejudiced the Defendants in any way. Nor is disqualification of a constitutional officer necessary when a less drastic and sufficiently remedial option is available. The Court therefore concludes that the prosecution of this case cannot proceed until the State selects one of two options. The District Attorney may choose to step aside, along with the whole of her office, and refer the prosecution to the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council for reassignment. See O.C.G.A. § 15-18-5. Alternatively, SADA Wade can withdraw, allowing the District Attorney, the Defendants, and the public to move forward without his presence or remuneration distracting from and potentially compromising the merits of this case.

He ruled that their relationship did not create an actual conflict of interest, but did create an appearance of one.

Whether this case ends in convictions, acquittals, or something in between, the result should be one that instills confidence in the process. A reasonable observer unburdened by partisan blinders should believe the law was impartially applied, that those accused of crimes had a fair opportunity to present their defenses, and that any verdict was based on our criminal justice system’s best efforts at ascertaining the truth. Any distractions that detract from these goals, if remedial under the law, should be proportionally addressed. After consideration of the record established on these motions, the Court finds the allegations and evidence legally insufficient to support a finding of an actual conflict of interest. However, the appearance of impropriety remains and must be handled as previously outlined before the prosecution can proceed.

The prosecution will go forward.

He also suggested he would entertain gagging Willis from any further public comment about the case, based on her comments at an Atlanta Church after the allegations were made public.

Here’s the link, via Anna Bower.

Update: Wade has now resigned from the case.

The “Waiting for Mueller” Mistake and the Right Wing Bubble

Simon Rosenberg didn’t panic about a 2022 Red Wave. As analysts everywhere were wailing that the Sky Was Falling, he was quietly confident.

Keep that in mind as you listen to this conversation he had with Greg Sargent. I have about the same cautious optimism as Rosenberg (I was less confident than he was in 2022) on this year’s election, but he’s a pro who works from fundamentals, not just last week’s poll results.

Among other things, he talks about how any of six big negatives for Trump could blow the election for him:

  1. He raped E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room
  2. He oversaw one of the largest frauds in America history and that he and Rudy Giuliani through all their various misdeeds own over $700M dollars
  3. He stole American secrets, lied to the FBI about it, and shared these secrets with other people
  4. He led an insurrection against the United States
  5. He and his family have corruptly taken billions from foreign governments
  6. He is singularly responsible for ending Roe and stripping the rights and freedoms away from more than half the population

I would add two more: First, Trump routinely defrauds MAGAt supporters. Over the last week, he turned the RNC into a means to do so on a grander scale. Republicans need to hear that they’re being taken to the cleaner by Trump — and by Steve Bannon, whose trial for doing so will also serve as backdrop to this election season.

More tellingly, Rosenberg addressed this detail when he described how Biden’s two big negatives have resolved (my biggest complaint about this interview is it didn’t address Gaza, the unmentioned third), not when he addressed Trump’s scandals.

The Biden crime family story, we just learned in the last few weeks, was a Russian op that was being laundered by the Republican party that blew up in their face.

Rosenberg treated the manufactured “Biden crime family” that was actually a Russian op laundered by the GOP as a resolved Biden negative after he made this point, the most important in the interview, in my opinion.

We have to learn the lesson from waiting for Mueller. Waiting for Mueller was a mistake by the Democratic Party. It prevented us from prosecuting the case against Trump and his illicit relationship with the Russian government that was out there all for us to see. Right? The Russians played a major role in his election in 2016. This is not in dispute in any way. And so I think now what we need to do is not wait for Jack Smith or wait for Merrick Garland. We need to use what’s in front of us and prosecute this in ways that we know is going to do enormous harm.

No superhero will come tell any one of these stories for Democrats. Trump’s opponents have to tell the story of Trump’s corruption. They cannot wait for Mueller. Or Jack Smith.

One of many reasons I’m so focused on the Hunter Biden story is that it is actually what proves the continuity of that story of Russian influence that Democrats failed to tell. Trump asks for Russian help in 2016 and gets it. As part of a campaign in which Rudy Giuliani solicited Russian spies for dirt on Hunter Biden, Trump withheld security support from Ukraine to get the same. Even after that, Trump’s DOJ created a way to launder the dirt Rudy collected from known Russian spies to use in the 2020 election. That campaign created the shiny object that has created the “Biden crime family” narrative. Like Russia’s role in the 2016 election, none of this is in dispute. It’s just not known.

You cannot wait for Robert Mueller or Jack Smith to tell this narrative. But for four months this entire story — this arc — has passed largely unnoticed, even as Trump took steps to deliver Ukraine’s bleeding corpse to his liege, Vladimir Putin.

Those who want to defeat Trump — and honestly, Republicans like Liz Cheney and Amanda Carpenter have been doing a better job of this than most Democrats — have to make sure this story gets told.

This is what I’ve been trying to say over and over and over. The reason why the moderate press hasn’t been telling the story of Trump’s role in the insurrection, of his ties to militia members and his direct inspiration for the most brutal assaults on cops on January 6 is because all their TV lawyers have been whinging instead about their own misunderstanding of the January 6 investigation. They haven’t been telling the story of what we know.

They have been complaining that Merrick Garland hasn’t compromised the investigation to tell them them more, turning Garland into their villain, not Trump.

In the few minutes after I posted these comments on Twitter, commenters have:

  • Complained that the full Mueller Report hasn’t been released, when really they’ve simply been too lazy to understand that the most damning bits have been released.
  • Bitched that Merrick Garland hired Rob Hur, rather than bitching about Rob Hur telling a narrative even after his own investigation had debunked it.
  • Complained about a delay in the January 6 investigation that didn’t happen.

Kaitlan Collins’ interview with Brian Butler, a former Trump employee whose testimony badly incriminated his one-time best friend, Carlos De Oliveira, has been drowned out by all the complaints.

The story barely made a blip. It’s not just the NYT that buries important Trump stories under complaints about Biden, it’s Democratic supporters.

Rosenberg went on to describe how Democrats need to improve this. He noted that the Right Wing noise machine provides them a great advantage on this front, one that Biden will have to spend to combat.

We have to recognize, Greg, that the information environment in the United States is really broken right now and that the power of the Right Wing noise machine to bully and intimidate mainstream media into being complicit in advancing some of their narratives is something that needs a campaign that has half a billion dollars in it to be able to draw even on. What we’ve learned is there is a structural imbalance in the information game between the two parties, that the Republicans have a significant advantage over us in a day-to-day information war.

This is true. But the insularity of the Right Wing noise machine can be made into a weakness for Republicans, even before spending the money. Because right wingers so rarely try to perform for a mainstream audience, as soon as they do — whether it is rising star Katie Britt or Kentucky redneck James Comer — they look like lying morons.

And in the face of that Right Wing noise, Democrats need to be disciplined.

The Biden campaign’s going to have to be wildly disciplined. They can’t chase the daily story. They’re going to have to pick the two or three things they know from research are the things that are a rubicon with the electorate.

[snip]

It’s going to be incumbent upon them to not allow the Trumpian mania and madness sort of push them around every day. They’re going to need to develop an offensive strategy both on what we’re selling and on what we’re indicting him with.

Rosenberg laid out the six bullets; I added two more. Trump will try to distract from that with daily outrages, with spectacle.

Trump — abetted by social media — will try to distract from that argument by demeaning all ability to make, or understand, coherent arguments.

I’m less sanguine than Rosenberg that even discipline is enough to overcome Trump’s circus. Therein lies the challenge.

But he’s right that those who want to defeat Trump have to make that case themselves. Neither Jack Smith, nor the NYT, will save you.

emptywheel Takes to MSNBC to Explain the January 6 Investigation

MSNBC was kind enough to invite me to make the case, again, that those blaming Merrick Garland for delays in the January 6 investigation simply aren’t familiar with the investigation. Readers will be familiar with much of this, but two details are new.

First, I describe what investigative steps prosecutors had to take to prepare the most obvious piece of evidence, Trump’s 2:24 tweet targeting Mike Pence.

Take the tweet Trump sent at 2:24 p.m. Jan. 6: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage.” It was right there in public! But to present that in court first required the exploitation of at least two phones, nine months of fights over executive privilege, a 23-day stall from Twitter and two sets of interviews with at least eight different top aides.

And something that’s long overdue: Holding the January 6 Committee responsible for their unnecessary delays, which almost bolloxed the Proud Boys trial.

One delay that was unnecessary was caused by some of the people who most loudly blamed Garland: the Jan. 6 Committee. DOJ first asked the committee for witness transcripts in April 2022. That June, prosecutors in the trial of leaders of the Proud Boys agreed to reschedule their trial from August until December because the committee would not release transcripts until September. The prosecutors were vindicated when those transcripts finally came out in December, after three additional months of delay and jury selection had already started. Twice during the trial, prosecutors learned that witnesses had told the committee something they hadn’t told the FBI; in one instance, a committee transcript revealed an attorney conflict that threatened prosecutors’ reliance on testimony from their most important cooperating witness. Given that court filings suggest Smith will treat the Proud Boys akin to co-conspirators when this case finally goes to trial, those are the kinds of unnecessary screw-ups that could jeopardize Trump’s trial itself.

SCOTUS Invites Jack Smith to Supersede Trump with Inciting Insurrection

The Supreme Court has not only held that states cannot enforce the 14th Amendment for Federal offices,

This case raises the question whether the States, in addition to Congress, may also enforce Section 3. We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.

But it held that Congress must exclude insurrectionists from office.

The respondents nonetheless maintain that States may enforce Section 3 against candidates for federal office. But the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, on its face, does not affirmatively delegate such a power to the States. The terms of the Amendment speak only to enforcement by Congress, which enjoys power to enforce the Amendment through legislation pursuant to Section 5.

It points to the predecessor to 18 USC 2383 as means to exclude someone.

Instead, it is Congress that has long given effect to Section 3 with respect to would-be or existing federal officeholders. Shortly after ratification of the Amendment, Congress enacted the Enforcement Act of 1870. That Act authorized federal district attorneys to bring civil actions in federal court to remove anyone holding nonlegislative office—federal or state—in violation of Section 3, and made holding or attempting to hold office in violation of Section 3 a federal crime. §§14, 15, 16 Stat. 143–144 (repealed, 35 Stat. 1153–1154, 62 Stat. 992–993). In the years following ratification, the House and Senate exercised their unique powers under Article I to adjudicate challenges contending that certain prospective or sitting Members could not take or retain their seats due to Section 3. See Art. I, §5, cls. 1, 2; 1 A. Hinds, Precedents of the House of Representatives §§459–463, pp. 470–486 (1907). And the Confiscation Act of 1862, which predated Section 3, effectively provided an additional procedure for enforcing disqualification. That law made engaging in insurrection or rebellion, among other acts, a federal crime punishable by disqualification from holding office under the United States. See §§2, 3, 12 Stat. 590. A successor to those provisions remains on the books today. See 18 U. S. C. §2383. [my emphasis]

Taken in tandem with SCOTUS’ punt on Trump’s immunity bid, this seems like an invitation for Jack Smith to supersede Trump with inciting insurrection. After all, SCOTUS has now upheld the DC Circuit opinion that says there’s no double jeopardy problem with trying someone for something on which they were acquitted after impeachment.

Jack Smith could — today — charge Trump with inciting insurrection in response to this order. It is the one Constitutional means to disqualify him, according to this order.

Trump’s Other Immunity Claim: Stealing Boxes and Boxes of Classified Documents

Whatever else the SCOTUS grant of Trump’s immunity claim did, it provided the basis for scheduling clarity.

It seems likely SCOTUS has committed to deciding the immunity question by the end of term, in June.

That would present Tanya Chutkan with the decision of whether to try the January 6 case during the election season (it is her choice, not DOJ’s to make). She had been entertaining starting the trial in August, which would have bled into election season as it is, so she may decide to do this. If she does, it is unlikely a jury would reach a verdict before election day, but the trial would give voters opportunity to see the evidence before voting.

The decision to grant cert is as interesting for Trump’s other immunity claim — Trump’s even more frivolous claim that he can’t be prosecuted for stealing boxes and boxes of classified documents because his claimed decision to convert those government documents to his personal possession in violation of the Presidential Records Act is immune from prosecution, as well. I’ve seen some commentary that SCOTUS may have been trying to come up with a different solution but then decided to hear the case. If that’s true, the decision to hear the case came less than a week after Trump made that other claim of immunity, that he can steal classified documents with impunity. Who knows? It’s not before the court, but it may have affected their decision to hear the case.

The matter will be fully briefed by the time Jack Smith submits his brief to SCOTUS on April 8. So he can have two absurd claims of immunity to address, Trump’s claim he can steal the election with impunity, and Trump’s claim he can convert boxes and boxes of classified documents to do with as he pleases on the way out the door even if it violates the Presidential Records Act, a law passed specifically to apply to Presidents. One of the matters that had been hypothetical before the DC Circuit — that Trump might sell nuclear documents to our adversaries — has become concrete.

Given the question as posed by SCOTUS — Whether and if so to what extent does a former President enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office? — I think SCOTUS may have been uncomfortable with the DC Circuit’s thin treatment of Trump’s argument that, without immunity, former Presidents could be prosecuted for things like approving the drone strike on Anwar al-Awlaki (note, when Trump raises this, he never mentions that he himself killed Awlaki’s daughter).

Former President Trump argues that criminal liability for former Presidents risks chilling Presidential action while in office and opening the floodgates to meritless and harassing prosecution. These risks do not overcome “the public interest in fair and accurate judicial proceedings,” which “is at its height in the criminal setting.” Vance, 140 S. Ct. at 2424.

Former President Trump first asserts that the prospect of potential post-Presidency criminal liability would inhibit a sitting President’s ability to act “fearlessly and impartially,” citing the “especially sensitive duties” of the President and the need for “bold and unhesitating action.”

There has to be something that distinguishes such actions from those charged against Trump. That something is likely the conversion of the Presidency to one’s own personal benefit. It’s not in the DC Circuit opinion and needs to be — all the more so given that, in Florida, Trump is claiming that he could legally simply convert boxes and boxes of classified documents to his personal property, even though the Presidential Records Act prohibits it.

It’s not in the DC Circuit opinion. But something like that has to be, some measure to distinguish the ordinary unlawful stuff Presidents are asked to authorize on behalf of the country and the venal stuff Trump did to benefit himself.

Tomorrow, Judge Cannon will hold a hearing to discuss how to schedule that trial. Her original schedule included six months of things after pretrial motions, which would put her schedule at September as well (though she’s obviously more likely to stall until after the election). But one thing she can expect is that, by June, Trump’s immunity claim will be resolved.

Update: Here’s the language from Trump’s brief that addresses this problem.

The panel opinion ignores the long history of real-world examples of Presidents engaging in actual behavior that political opponents viewed as egregious and “criminal.” Instead, keying on the Special Counsel’s arguments, the panel fretted about lurid hypotheticals that have never occurred in 234 years of history, almost certainly never will occur, and would virtually certainly result in impeachment and Senate conviction (thus authorizing criminal prosecution) if they did occur—such as a hypothetical President corruptly ordering the assassination of political rivals through “SEAL Team Six.” D.C. Cir. Oral Arg Tr. 10:19-21. Such hypotheticals provide fodder for histrionic media coverage, but they are a poor substitute for legal and historical analysis. Confronted with real-world hypotheticals—such as President Obama’s killing of U.S. citizens by drone strike—the Special Counsel conceded below that Presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts likely exists and would apply, directly contradicting the “categorical,” App’x 20A, holdings to the contrary of both the appellate panel and the trial court. D.C. Cir. Oral Arg Tr. 49:18-22 (Special Counsel admitting that a “drone strike” where “civilians were killed … might be the kind of place in which the Court would properly recognize some kind of immunity”). Further, the logical presupposition of such speculative hypotheticals—i.e., that the Founders supposedly must have intended that no alleged Presidential misdeed could ever escape prosecution—is plainly incorrect and contradicts the basic premises of a system of separated powers. “While the separation of powers may prevent us from righting every wrong, it does so in order to ensure that we do not lose liberty.” Morrison, 487 U.S. at 710 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

Jack Smith’s response doesn’t really deal with this issue in depth.

7 A sufficient basis for resolving this case would be that, whatever the rule in other contexts not presented here, no immunity attaches to a President’s commission of federal crimes to subvert the electoral process. See Amici Br. of John Danforth et al., at 7. The court of appeals’ analysis was “specific” to the allegations that applicant conspired to “overturn federal election results and unlawfully overstay his Presidential term,” Appl. App. 31A, and a stay can be denied on that basis alone, leaving for another day whether any immunity from criminal prosecution should be recognized in any circumstances. See Gov’t C.A. Br. 45-49 (explaining that foreign affairs are not implicated in this case); cf. Nixon, 418 U.S. at 707, 710, 712 n.19 (reserving whether an absolute presidential-communications privilege might exist for military, diplomatic, or national security secrets).

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