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Bill Barr Reality Checks Trump Critics Following SCOTUS Ruling

Former US Attorney General Bill Barr has provided a reality check on criticism of the Supreme Court's decision granting former President Donald Trump “absolute immunity” for his official duties while in office.

Trump's critics argued that the decision put the president above the law by giving him absolute power to carry out any illegal decisions he wants. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that the majority's decision “reconstructs the institution of the presidency” and that “the president is now a king above the law.”

“Allow the president to break the law, to use the privilege of his office for personal gain, and to abuse his public power,” Sotomayor wrote. “Because if he knew he might one day be held accountable for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like to be. That is the message of the majority today.”

Barr argued that the president has absolute immunity only when he is performing official duties protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“When he's acting directly in accordance with the Constitution and performing his constitutional duties, he has absolute immunity. When he's performing his official duties, he has presumed immunity and the government has the burden of showing that it can prosecute him without compromising its executive functions. And finally, there's no immunity for informal or private conduct. And I think the practical effect of this is to do what the district court really should have done in the first place, which is to get the government to do the analysis that gets the facts up to the Supreme Court,” Attorney General Barr said on Monday's show.

He accused Sotomayor of “unfairly” portraying the majority opinion and argued that the president is still restricted from certain actions prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. (Related article: “The literal definition of a functioning democracy”: Former US Attorney slams Democrats for attacking Supreme Court after immunity decision)

“The president has the right to order an investigation by the Department of Justice, but Justice Sotomayor gave the example, 'Well, you can fabricate evidence, give it to the Department of Justice, and then use that evidence to prosecute.' The president does not have the power to fabricate evidence,” Barr continued. “That's not the exercise of an executive function. And I think the worst example, the example that makes absolutely no sense, is the president being able to use SEAL Team Six to kill a political opponent. The president has the power to protect the country from foreign enemies, armed conflict, and so on. He has the power to direct the justice system against domestic criminals. The president does not have the power to assassinate people.”

“So it doesn't matter if he uses SEAL teams or private hitmen. That's not an exercise of his power. So all of these horror stories are lies,” he added.

Liberal commentators openly fantasized about President Joe Biden assassinating political opponents or taking military action. One commentator argued that the decision meant Biden could order SEAL Team Six to assassinate President Trump and Supreme Court justices as an official act of the executive branch. Many commentators falsely claimed Biden could order the military to conduct “drone strikes” on the homes of judges and former presidents, and some even urged the president to do so.

On January 6, 2021, President Trump appealed a four-count indictment by Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Counsel Jack Smith regarding his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in late February after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that President Trump could not avoid prosecution in this particular case.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that the analysis of which of Smith's allegations should be considered official conduct “is best left to the lower courts.”

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