Trump Lawyer Argues Fake Electors Were “Official” Presidential Act – The New Republic

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Trump Lawyer Argues Fake Electors Were “Official” Presidential Act – The New Republic

The Supreme Court’s ruling on presidential immunity means that the president can attempt to overturn elections, according to one of Trump’s lawyers.

Will Scharf told CNN’s Kaitlin Collins Monday night that “alternate slates of electors have been a method used by previous presidents, most notably Ulysses S. Grant, to ensure the integrity of prior elections.”

“We believe the assembly of those alternate slates of electors was an official act of the presidency,” Scharf said, referring to the attempts by Trump allies to subvert the 2020 election results in different states. “That’s what we argued before the Supreme Court.”

Scharf: We believe the assembly of those alternate slates of electors was an official act of the presidency.
After the 2020 election, Trump and his allies tried to present fake electors in states across America to flip results in his favor, including Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona, resulting in criminal charges in many cases. In Georgia, Trump himself was charged, along with 18 of his allies, but the case is in limbo while an appeals court considers whether prosecutor Fani Willis should be thrown off of the case.

The nation’s highest court seems to have opened the floodgates for any kind of presidential crimes, so long as the president can argue it was an “official” act. Now, sitting presidents can argue they cannot be prosecuted, evidence cannot be collected against them, and the Justice Department is not independent of the White House. There are probably more devastating interpretations yet to come. Meanwhile, Trump is attempting to get his hush-money conviction thrown out over how some of the evidence was collected.

The work to undo Donald Trump’s criminal charges—and his recent conviction—in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling on presidential immunity has already begun.
Hours after the ruling Monday, the former president’s legal team requested that Judge Juan Merchan set aside Trump’s hush-money conviction and delay the sentencing scheduled for next week, citing the Supreme Court’s expansion of presidential immunity.
Trump’s attorneys argued that some evidence presented in the case constituted official presidential acts, according to a copy of a letter obtained by the Associated Press. That could refer to some of the communication Trump had about his former fixer Michael Cohen, which his legal team had previously attempted to redact from the trial on the same presidential immunity claim. But that was before the Supreme Court expanded the definition of immunity.
“Under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of Presidential power entitles a former President to absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority,” read the consequential ruling. “There is no immunity for unofficial acts.”
The high court’s decision already effectively killed Trump’s federal election interference trial, which sought to hold Trump accountable for his role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election results and the far-right mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. Now it could overturn one of the few cases where Trump is being held accountable.
Trump was accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He was convicted on 34 felony charges in May for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime in the first degree. Merchan could sentence Trump to up to four years in prison on the charges. He could also impose probation, supervised release, or order Trump to do community service or pay fines.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr couldn’t help but laugh at the mention of Donald Trump’s erstwhile strategist Steve Bannon sitting in a federal prison cell.
During an interview on Fox News’s Your World Monday night, host Neil Cavuto asked Barr what impact he believed that presidential immunity, which Trump was freshly granted by the Supreme Court earlier that day, would have on Trump’s behavior if reelected to the White House. Cavuto asked Barr if he thought Trump would even care about being punished if he’d be 82 years old by the time he left office.
“Well, I would say, you know, the president acts through people,” said Barr. “And maybe he wouldn’t worry about it, although I think he would, but his, the people who are around him and are being asked to do things, certainly I think are going to make sure that they’re behaving within the law.”
“I understand people’s concern given his frequently incendiary rhetoric, I’m just saying, having experienced working with a person and being a subordinate of his,” Barr continued. “You know, Bannon says I’m the first person to go to prison under President Trump. I don’t lose any sleep over it. I’m not worried about that.”
Cavuto laughed, before pointing out, “I think he’s in prison right now, himself.”
Barr burst into laughter.
“I don’t mean to make light of that,” Cavuto said, moving on to his next question.
Bannon chaotically reported to Danbury federal prison in Connecticut on Monday, after being found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress. In recent weeks, the former Trump strategist made several desperate attempts to avoid jail time, all of which were clearly unsuccessful. While the American system of mass incarceration is no laughing matter, perhaps the MAGA mastermind will reenter society with a new perspective on prison abolition?

During his appearance on Fox News, Barr also took aim at Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in the immunity case, in which she slammed the majority opinion for making the president a king by giving him the immunity to assassinate his political enemies.
“The president has the authority to defend the country against foreign enemies, armed conflict and so forth. He has the authority to direct the justice system against criminals at home. He doesn’t have authority to go and assassinate people. So whether he uses the SEAL team or a private hitman, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make it a carrying out of his authority. So all these horror stories really are false,” Barr said.
This isn’t the first time that Barr has downplayed the violent rhetoric of his former boss. In April, Barr claimed that Trump would “lose his temper” and “blow off steam” by calling for the execution of his enemies, but said, “I doubt he would’ve actually carried it out.” In just the past 24 hours, the possibility of Trump following through on any of his wild remarks promising violent retribution has become all the more real.
After the Supreme Court essentially gave him absolute immunity for “official acts,” Donald Trump decided to take aim at the man tasked with investigating his federal misdeeds: special counsel Jack Smith.

In a Truth Social post shortly after midnight Tuesday, the former president and convicted felon reveled in the fact that Smith’s election interference case against him is all but dead.

“A really bad day for Deranged Jack Smith, the wacko prosecutor used for Crooked Joe Biden’s attack on his Political Opponent. Today, as in the past, the Supreme Court gave the Deranged One a high level SPANKING!” Trump posted.

“His ‘real’ bosses, Andrew Weissmann and Lisa Monaco, not to mention Merrick Garland, whose once great reputation has been shattered by these Thugs, and his constant defense of Crooked Joe, must be furious at him. Garland ought to call an end to this never ending HOAX, and let people focus on bringing back Greatness to America!” Trump added.

Trump’s gloating follows his son Donald Trump Jr.’s mockery of Smith on Monday, referring to the special counsel in an X (formerly Twitter) post about “corrupt prosecutors” in Washington, D.C. It’s a post that will seem ironic if the elder Trump wins in November, as all of those federal prosecutors, who ultimately report to the U.S. attorney general, will surely lose their independence thanks to the Supreme Court. Their ruling states that the president can have free rein to wield the Justice Department as he sees fit.
The Trump family certainly won’t be calling any prosecutors who work for them “corrupt.” They’ll need them to keep away any investigations into their business practices, or their use of the presidency to make money. The only means of keeping presidential corruption in check may be the weak and Hail Mary threat of impeachment.
House Speaker Mike Johnson appeared on Fox News Monday night to downplay the alarming implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. United States, which grants Trump absolute immunity from federal prosecution for crimes he committed in office.
“No one who is elected to that office [of the president] is going to be prone to this kind of crazy criminal activity,” Johnson argued in defense of the Supreme Court ruling, ignoring that the case was brought to the bench after the former president was charged with committing crazy criminal activity. “What the court is saying here follows common sense, and, of course, our Constitution as well,” Johnson added.
Speaker Mike Johnson on Fox News: “The president and VP are the only two offices in our constitutional system that are elected by all the people. No one who is elected to that office is going to be prone to this kind of crazy criminal activity.”
Johnson’s comments came in response to a statement from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries stating that Congress would engage in “aggressive oversight and legislative activity with respect to the Supreme Court to ensure that the extreme, far-right justices in the majority are brought into compliance with the Constitution.” Prior to Jeffries’s statement, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a declaration that she would be pursuing articles of impeachment against the Supreme Court, which she described as being “consumed by a corruption crisis beyond its control.”
Trump brought the case to the Supreme Court in an effort to undermine his federal election interference case, arguing that any actions he took as president, such as conspiring to submit fake electors to fraudulently win an election, were inherently official presidential duties. In addition to ruling that presidents are shielded from prosecution for their “core” constitutional duties, the Supreme Court also limited what evidence can be brought against them to prosecute criminal “private” activities and suggested the federal case against Trump can’t continue. The combination essentially makes presidential power limitless and holding Trump to account effectively impossible.
As Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in her dissent, which Johnson wrote off alongside widespread condemnation of the Supreme Court decision as “all sorts of hyperbole,” the decision effectively turns presidents into “a king above the law” based on ahistorical reasoning that “makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government.” Johnson cast these criticisms aside, describing concern for the death of the rule of law simply a “charade.”
Hunter Biden is finally making good on his threat to sue Fox News.
The president’s son filed a lawsuit against Fox News on Monday, alleging that the conservative media company violated New York state’s revenge porn law by illegally publishing his nude photographs and videos, as part of a miniseries imagining his trial for charges that were never brought.
The suit alleges that explicit photographs of Biden were included in the miniseries The Trial of Hunter Biden: A Mock Trial for the American People without his consent. The program depicts a fictionalized mock trial in which the president’s son is sued for allegations of bribery and foreign lobbying—charges that have never been formally brought against him. 
Fox News “unlawfully published numerous intimate images (both still and video) of Mr. Biden depicting him in the nude, depicting an unclothed or exposed intimate part of him, as well as engaged in sex acts,” the court documents said.
In the suit, Biden accuses Fox News of using the miniseries in an attempt to “harass, annoy, alarm and humiliate him and tarnish his reputation.”
Biden is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Fox News and its parent company Fox Corporation for causing “severe emotional distress, humiliation, and mental anguish” for its own financial gain. 
“The miniseries is fictionalized; it is not a news event. It was made for the purpose of trade and advertising, and merely exploits Mr. Biden’s name, image, and likeness for Fox’s commercial benefit,” the lawsuit says.
Biden is also hoping to prevent Fox from ever again airing his nude images without his consent.   
In April, lawyers for Biden published a letter warning that they would bring legal action against Fox for the company’s “relentless” attacks against him, accusing the media giant of “conspiracy and subsequent actions to defame” the president’s son. Soon after, the miniseries was yanked from Fox’s website out of an “abundance of caution,” Fox said in a statement to CNN. 
Monday’s suit alleges that the network failed to remove promotional material and clips of the series, and that the show is still available to view on third-party platforms. 
Fox News has already released a statement criticizing Biden and the lawsuit. “This entirely politically motivated lawsuit is devoid of merit,” said Fox News in a statement to Forbes. “The core complaint stems from a 2022 streaming program that Mr. Biden did not complain about until sending a letter in late April 2024.” 
The company also maintained that its coverage of Biden was consistent with the First Amendment. 
With the Supreme Court’s ruling on immunity Monday morning effectively handing ultimate power to the presidency, and by extension, Donald Trump, it has opened the door to occupants of the Oval Office acting however they want.

One commentator on X (formerly Twitter), Democratic influencer Harry Sisson, pointed out that given the new ruling, Joe Biden could in theory order Seal Team 6 to assassinate Trump, his political rival—a point that Trump’s legal team tried to defend during the case’s oral arguments.

Trump campaign adviser Chris LaCivita soon quoted Sisson’s post with an ominous warning.
There are a few ways to interpret LaCivita’s words: Either he is ready to spread a new conspiracy theory about Biden attempting hit jobs on Trump, or he was warning Sisson about his own visit from Seal 6 in a second Trump term. Perhaps he was warning Biden himself. Regardless, references to political assassination are not inspiring coming from a top Trump campaign adviser.
The right-wing quickly dogpiled on Sisson after his initial tweet, leading him to post Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in the case, where she referenced the relevant oral argument. Sisson also fired back with a video calling out LaCivita, and wondering aloud whether he was being threatened.

Trump’s campaign manager just threatened me. Here’s my response👇
In the age of MAGA, Republicans and conservatives have not been shy to threaten political violence. The January 6 Capitol riot is one of the biggest examples of that rhetoric coming to fruition, and ever since, conservatives have not sought to calm the mood. In April, Senator Tom Cotton suggested that peaceful protesters who block traffic should be removed with physical violence, and Trump himself said that 2024 could be the “last election we ever have.” Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, which severely undermines the legal case against Trump for his involvement in the riot, shows that there’s little consequence for encouraging or threatening violence.

In response to the Supreme Court’s disastrous 6–3 decision on Monday granting Trump expansive immunity from criminal prosecution, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a stern condemnation of the court’s “corruption crisis beyond its control” and vowed to issue articles of impeachment against the Supreme Court once Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.
“Today’s ruling represents an assault on American democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in response to the Supreme Court deciding on Monday that presidents are above the law. “It is up to Congress to defend our nation from this authoritarian capture.” Ocasio-Cortez’s bold declaration prompted a since-deleted response from Representative Veronica Escobar saying, “Count me in,” suggesting there may soon be more lawmakers behind the effort.
Prior to Monday’s ruling in Trump v. United States, the Supreme Court significantly expanded its judicial power and overturned the Chevron doctrine—and then further obliterated modern administrative law in yet another case. The Supreme Court also dismantled a law used to convict hundreds of Capitol rioters on the basis that the relevant subsection of the law comes after an irrelevant subsection, a barely cogent legal argument that conservative justice Amy Coney Barrett described as “textual backflips.”
According to the Constitution, Supreme Court justices “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour,” meaning justices remain on the Supreme Court until they either step down, die, or are removed by impeachment. Impeaching a Supreme Court justice requires a simple majority vote in the House followed by a conviction in the Senate with a two-thirds majority vote—meaning the success of AOC’s prospective efforts to impeach any Supreme Court justice relies in part on Democrats winning control of the House and substantially increasing their majority in the Senate, as well as ginning up enough support to pursue impeachment in the first place.
The only Supreme Court justice ever to be impeached was Samuel Chase in 1804. The House successfully passed articles of impeachment against Chase on charges that he used his position to promote his political agenda, which at the time the House’s impeachment articles described as “tending to prostitute the high judicial character with which he was invested, to the low purpose of an electioneering partizan.” Despite the House’s successful impeachment vote, the Senate later acquitted Chase.
It’s unclear whether the articles of impeachment Ocasio-Cortez intends to file would be levied against all six conservative justices behind the majority opinion in the immunity ruling, or whether the effort would focus on specific justices, such as Clarence Thomas and his chronic failure to disclose gifts from conservative billionaires or Samuel Alito and his wife’s love of far-right flags. Regardless, it’s a massive threat that will take a Herculean effort to pull off.
Political conspiracy theorist Steve Bannon is turning to establishment conservatives to guest-host his podcast while he serves his prison sentence—and they’re all too ready to take on the job.
A couple dozen guest hosts are slated to take over Bannon’s far-right podcast, War Room, before he wraps up his stint in federal prison. The names filling up the time slots—and effectively elevating the fringe platform—include top conservative lawmakers such as Representatives Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert.
They’ll join the likes of alt-right conspiracy theorist and white supremacist Jack Posobiec, Trump administration officials Kash Patel and Peter Navarro (who will join once he finishes his own prison sentence on July 17), former Fox News commentator Monica Crowley, and, strangely, Osama bin Laden’s niece, Noor bin Laden.
Bannon headed to prison Monday for defying a congressional subpoena from the house January 6 investigative committee. The former Trump adviser played a key role in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and helped stoke the anger among conservatives that boiled into the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building. Bannon is scheduled to be released November 1, just days before the next election.
“It doesn’t matter that I’m in prison,” Bannon told The Daily Beast on Sunday. “The show will be bigger.… They’re making me a martyr.”
“The audience will not notice any difference in the intensity, the urgency, the topics we cover, contributors,” he continued.
But the 70-year-old’s perspective on his own imprisonment is still a bit askew from the reality of his situation. Rather than viewing it as an immediate and legally expected consequence of failing to respond to a mandatory congressional inquiry, Bannon seemed to believe the prison sentence boiled down to an effort to shutter his peripheral political platform. For the alt-right, that makes the podcast’s longevity a symbolic success.
“It’s very simple,” Bannon said. “I’m a political prisoner, because I have a very successful platform that reaches the common man. They hate that; they will do anything to shut that down.”
Meanwhile, the former Trump strategist seemed ready to take on his sentence, telling the Beast that he wasn’t expecting any “special deals.”
“I’m just showing up tomorrow,” Bannon told the publication. “Let’s roll.”
As a part of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday on presidential immunity, the highest court in the land officially determined that a sitting president cannot be criminally prosecuted, promising an abrupt end to some of Donald Trump’s remaining criminal trials should he be elected in November.
While the Department of Justice has long held that a sitting president cannot be criminally prosecuted, the Supreme Court has never explicitly ruled on the issue—until now. In one brief footnote of his majority opinion granting sweeping protections to the president, Chief Justice John Roberts reaffirmed the department’s rule.
“Our decision in Clinton permitted claims alleging unofficial acts to proceed against the sitting President,” he wrote, referring to Clinton v. Jones, a civil suit brought against former President Bill Clinton over conduct from before he was president. “In the criminal context, however, the Justice Department ‘has long recognized’ that ‘the separation of powers precludes the criminal prosecution of a sitting President.’”
The decision in Trump v. United States has gutted Jack Smith’s indictment alleging that the former president attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections; it also makes clear that if Trump is elected, he won’t face justice for crimes committed out of office, either.
If he makes it back into the White House, Trump will likely never face trial over allegations that he illegally kept a trove of classified documents and obstructed their return, a trial that has faced significant delays at the hands of a Trump-appointed judge, pushing its start date to well after the election.
The Supreme Court decision further incentivizes Trump to do anything necessary to seize the presidency in November, so that he can evade prosecution for his alleged crimes. This significantly increases the vigor with which the former president will oppose the results of the democratic elections if he doesn’t come out victorious.