While much of the nation was preoccupied with a cabal of House Republicans throwing a tantrum that threatened national security, President Donald Trump's lawyers argued in front of a Federal Appeals Court that Manhattan prosecutors had no right to subpoena Trump's personal and corporate tax returns.
The lawyers' argument strikes to the heart of the current Justice Department policy—enforced by Attorney General William Barr—that a sitting president can't be indicted and, therefore, is also immune to criminal investigation.
Trump's lawyers were appealing a lower court ruling which described the defense as "repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values."
During the 2016 campaign, Trump famously bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any supporters. Carey Dunne, Counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney, invoked Trump's claim as an example of the ridiculousness of the argument that the President is immune from criminal investigation.
Judge Denny Chin asked Trump lawyer William S. Consovoy if he was arguing that "nothing could be done" if the President actually did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.
Consovoy argued that, even then, Trump would be immune from investigation.
Judge: If President Trump shot someone on Fifth Avenue, local authorities couldn't investigate, or do anything abou… https://t.co/hjLO0NANFl— NBC News (@NBC News) 1571849619.0
Judge Denny Chin asked Consovoy if his position was that nothing could be done if the President shot someone on Fifth Avenue.
"That is correct."
The case is being argued in front of a federal appeals court—just one level below the Supreme Court. Its chief judge, Robert A. Katzmann said:
"This case seems bound for the Supreme Court. We have the feeling that you may be seeing each other again in Washington."
Two Justices on the Supreme Court were picked by Trump—it's unclear whether or not they would recuse themselves if the case were to ascend to the nation's highest court.
People balked that it had actually come to this: A lawyer arguing in a court of law that Trump would have immunity if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue.
Trump attorney: The president can legally commit murder. No really. Just said that. In court. #AWFDY https://t.co/L0nXGyWX4o— Eric Garland (@Eric Garland) 1571860292.0
"President Trump’s private attorney said Wednesday that the president could not be investigated or prosecuted as lo… https://t.co/qCh65sWCVu— Judd Legum (@Judd Legum) 1571848102.0
Apparently, Trump really does believe he's above the law. And now he's trying to convince a federal appeals court… https://t.co/7srAkfC2O7— Elizabeth C. McLaughlin (@Elizabeth C. McLaughlin) 1571849898.0
Just so everyone has got this straight - Today, the President’s lawyer argued to a 3 judge panel that Trump could l… https://t.co/Ffz8NnPwP3— Michael Avenatti (@Michael Avenatti) 1571856606.0
This is insane. https://t.co/NrcUKQfFgU— Funkasaurus (@Funkasaurus) 1571850285.0
The position is that the POTUS could shoot any citizen that he wanted to and nothing could be done about it. Is thi… https://t.co/eCw5uR5E9T— Liddle' Boz (@Liddle' Boz) 1571857733.0
LMFAO, you thought he was "joking". https://t.co/E7tBc9ZPws— Alt US Cyber Command (@Alt US Cyber Command) 1571853346.0
It's unclear when the panel will issue its ruling.