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Lawyer: Nothing Can Be Done if Trump Shoots Someone

Lawyer argues he has immunity from state criminal law, but only while in office
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2019 2:30 PM CDT
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President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to Pittsburgh to attend the 9th annual Shale Insight Conference, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?" then-candidate Donald Trump said. As president, he could do that without being arrested, at least while he remained in office, his lawyers argued in front of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday. The AP reports they were appearing before a three-judge panel to argue in favor of blocking a subpoena issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for eight years of Trump's tax returns. Trump's argument is that he enjoys absolute immunity from state criminal law—and even from being investigated—as president, and that led to a standout exchange.

Attorney William Consovoy was asked by Judge Denny Chin if Trump did indeed shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, "local authorities couldn't investigate? They couldn't do anything about it?" Politico reports Consovoy replied that "once a president is removed from office, any local authority" could prosecute him as "this is not a permanent immunity." Chin circled back: "Well, I'm talking about while in office. Nothing could be done? That's your position?" Consovoy's response: "That is correct. That is correct. Yes." The AP reports it continues to look like the case will end up in the hands of the Supreme Court: Chief Judge Robert Katzmann finished up the near-hour of arguments by saying the panel believed the attorneys "may be seeing each other again in Washington." (Read more President Trump stories.)

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