Other voices: If Trump’s immune, so’s Biden, no?

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Donald Trump was in federal court Wednesday as his lawyers laid out his preposterous argument that presidents are immune from federal prosecution for actions taken in office unless impeached and convicted in the Senate. Whatever the three-judge appeals panel decides, the case will most likely end up before the Supreme Court, which must reject this ridiculous notion.

A detail here that’s easy to overlook is that Trump’s legal claim rests on the premise that whatever Trump could have immunity to do, Joe Biden could too. That he feels comfortable explicitly stating this in court counteracts all the bluster about some supposed Biden plot to use the federal government against Trump.

If he were really worried that Biden was abusing his official position and directing shadowy and improper investigations against his political rival, the former president wouldn’t simultaneously be arguing that Biden could and should be able to do so consequence-free.

Trump is advancing this fringe position because, despite the rhetoric, he knows that Biden does not and would not engage in all of the sinister authoritarian machinations he describes, and which Trump has been all too happy to insist he would engage in with gusto if elected again.

Biden won’t try to wrangle additional votes out of state officials or recruit fake electors, much less engage in the higher-order hypotheticals that Trump’s legal team suggested, in oral arguments, presidents can’t be prosecuted for. (These included sending Navy SEALs to assassinate a political opponent.)

This thinking has always been one of Trump’s most personally useful attributes: he’ll do what others won’t, broach any legal and ethical constraints and plow ahead, staring down anyone in a position to hold him accountable, daring them to stop him. For the most part, they haven’t.

Trump has based huge amounts of his phony business empire on fraud, obfuscation, nonpayment of contractors and playing chicken with the banks, threatening default and going bankrupt and paying little to no taxes. He just kept getting away with it. Being told “no” by the voters in 2020 was such a shock that he simply refused to accept it and tried mightily to overturn their choice.

That’s the core of Trump, his fundamental essence. He believes that Biden won’t go after him even if the immunity claim succeeds, not because Biden is a principled person or a believer in the rule of law, but because Biden is a sucker. There are only winners and suckers in Trump’s world, and his own voters overwhelmingly fall into the latter category, not that they realize this.

It’s already clear that the erratic author of the first serious rebellion in a century and a half will be even more unchained in a second term, and he’s been candid about his desire to punish and subjugate all his real and perceived opponents and wave off any legal or constitutional limitations.

— The New York Daily News

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