“There is nothing left”: Experts say ruling “dismantled” Trump argument so bad SCOTUS won’t touch it

"Every single argument was methodically and systematically" picked apart by the court, experts say

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 7, 2024 8:54AM (EST)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Fort Dodge Senior High School on November 18, 2023 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Fort Dodge Senior High School on November 18, 2023 in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s appeals court ruling rejecting former President Donald Trump’s immunity claim is so “unimpeachable” that the Supreme Court is likely to avoid taking up the case, legal experts say.

A three-judge D.C. Circuit panel issued a 57-page ruling rejecting Trump’s claim of blanket presidential immunity for acts he committed while in the White House.

“For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution," the judges wrote.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement that the former president “respectfully disagrees” with the ruling and plans to “appeal it in order to safeguard the Presidency and the Constitution.”

"A President of the United States must have Full Immunity in order to properly function and do what has to be done for the good of our Country,” Trump himself wrote on Truth Social. “If not overturned, as it should be, this decision would terribly injure not only the Presidency, but the Life, Breath, and Success of our Country,” he added.

But legal experts say Trump may have trouble getting the Supreme Court to take up his case.

Trump’s lawyers “threw everything up in the air and every single argument was methodically and systematically dismantled by this court,” conservative attorney George Conway told CNN on Tuesday.

"There is nothing left," he said. "Even the court addressed all the bad arguments that Trump probably shouldn't have made to this court. And there's just nothing. There's just nothing left for the Supreme Court to clean up."

MSNBC legal analyst Chuck Rosenberg agreed that Trump may struggle to find the necessary four justices to hear the case.

"The court of appeals decision was thoughtful and forceful and, I think, solid, and forgive the pun, but unimpeachable," Rosenberg said. "I think that means it will not be reviewed by the Supreme Court, at least not right now. I don't really see a path there.

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"The only party who benefits from delay – the only party – is Mr. Trump, and so whether he gets five justices for a stay or four to grant a petition of certiorari for the Supreme Court to hear the case, that's Mr. Trump's path," he added. "I think whether you're a textualist or an originalist, or just a thoughtful, smart justice of the Supreme Court, you read the D.C. opinion. It denies absolute immunity. It counters the notion that double jeopardy was implicated in this case, and the best thing to do, the smartest thing to do, the lawful thing to do is to send this back to Judge [Tanya] Chutkan and let her try it.”

Harvard legal scholar Laurence Tribe called the court’s ruling “bulletproof” and “airtight” and predicted it will be “studied by law students for generations.” Tribe said the court “dismembered” Trump’s arguments “piece by piece, methodically in this historic opinion,” adding that the Supreme Court is not likely to take it up.

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Donald Trump Jack Smith Politics Supreme Court Tanya Chutkan