Johnson dismisses Democratic ‘hyperbole’ over immunity ruling: ‘It’s madness’

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Johnson dismisses Democratic ‘hyperbole’ over immunity ruling: ‘It’s madness’

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Monday shrugged off Democrats’ concern over the Supreme Court’s presidential immunity ruling, calling their fears of future presidential criminality “madness.”

“Look, there’s all sorts of hyperbole tonight…and just this, fantastical, these hypotheticals they’ve made up [that] future presidents are going to turn into assassins and all the rest,” Johnson said Monday in an interview on Fox News. “It’s madness.”

“Listen, remember this. The president and vice president are the only two officers in our constitutional system that are elected by all the people, no one who is elected to that office going to be prone to this kind of crazy criminal activity,” Johnson added.

The Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision Monday, ruling along ideological lines that presidents have absolute immunity for actions that fall within the core responsibilities of their office and are “at least presumptively immune” for all other official acts.

Democrats criticized the ruling, arguing it will embolden future presidents to break the law with impunity — including former President Trump if he return to the White House.

Some lawmakers echoed the sentiments from the three liberal justices who dissented from Monday’s decision and listed off a series of hypothetical situations and crimes they argued presidents will now be shielded from.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the dissent, said the Supreme Court’s decision to grant Trump immunity for official acts “completely insulate[s] presidents from criminal liability.”

“When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution,” Sotomayor wrote. “Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune.” 

Johnson pushed back against this argument, stating the majority opinion “follows common sense” and the Constitution.

“You have to have the president, with the ability to make difficult decisions — hourly, daily — and not be worried about rogue prosecutors going after them at some point in the future,” Johnson said. “I mean, the president can’t operation if he has that kind of ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over his head and that’s very simply what the court ruled today.”

Johnson was among several Republicans who hailed the high court ruling as a victory over government “weaponization,” after it dealt a blow to special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The Speaker argued the ruling should have been 9-0 and accused the liberal justices of “playing along with the charade.”

The decision is likely to delay Trump’s federal election subversion trial, as it sent the case back to a lower court to reconsider whether his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, merit special protection from criminal prosecution.