Former President Donald Trump was criticized after he issued a late night Truth Social post in which he conceded, for the first time, that his actions leading up to the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol might have violated the law.
Since the day a mob of his followers stormed the Capitol on the false premise the 2020 election had been stolen, Trump has consistently maintained that his actions were entirely appropriate. Despite facing four criminal prosecutions, Trump and his legal team have primarily argued for immunity in the federal case related to January 6.
The case under appeal involves four felony counts, accusing Trump of conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, and conspiring to deprive millions of their votes.
In his all-caps post, Trump advocated for Presidents to have "FULL IMMUNITY" because without it, it would be "IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM/HER TO PROPERLY FUNCTION," adding:
"ANY MISTAKE, EVEN IF WELL INTENDED, WOULD BE MET WITH ALMOST CERTAIN INDICTMENT BY THE OPPOSING PARTY AT TERM END."
“EVEN EVENTS THAT ‘CROSS THE LINE’ MUST FALL UNDER TOTAL IMMUNITY, OR IT WILL BE YEARS OF TRAUMA TRYING TO DETERMINE GOOD FROM BAD. THERE MUST BE CERTAINTY."
Jonathan Lemire, Politico's White House Bureau Chief, pointed out the bit that struck many as an admission of illegality:
You can see Trump's full deranged post below.
Trump's post came just weeks after he alarmed his critics when he told Fox News personality Sean Hannity that he plans to be a "dictator" on "day one" in the event he wins the 2024 election and returns to the White House.
Pressed about potentially taking retributive action against his adversaries if reinstated as president, Trump initially avoided a direct response. However, when probed again, he mentioned that he would adopt a dictatorial stance solely on the first day of his second term.
Many had assumed that Trump's claim of "total immunity" in the federal January 6th case against him was simply an argument to spark a delay in the case. His lawyer was even forced to admit to a panel of appeals court judges that Trump's position is that it should be ok for a president to send in Seal Team 6 to assassinate his political rival if he was not impeached and convicted for it; that he should have immunity from any criminal prosecution for such a crime. It is an argument with no merit, as the judges' skepticism of the arguments bore out at the time.
But yet here is Trump making the case outside of a courtroom, without the caveat about impeachment and removal. He just really thinks he should be retroactively immune for everything he did as president, even the stuff he did that "crossed a line."
Trump was swiftly criticized after his post went viral.
If Trump loses his immunity argument, he could stand trial on felony charges, potentially facing decades in prison.
In addition to the January 6 case, Trump faces other legal challenges, including a Georgia state prosecution, a second federal prosecution for refusing to turn over documents, and a New York state indictment related to a hush money payment.
Despite the legal troubles, Trump maintains popularity within the GOP and leads in polls for the 2024 presidential nomination. Recently, he secured a victory in the Iowa caucuses, maintaining a 30-point margin over the second-place contender.
A ruling on Trump's "total immunity" claim is due from the U.S. Court of Appeals any day.