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Trump’s Legal Argument Threatens Constitutional Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public Citizen today filed an amicus brief in Trump v. United States. Donald Trump is charged in that case with federal crimes allegedly committed to keep himself in power and prevent Joe Biden, the lawful winner of the 2020 Presidential election, from taking office. In the U.S. Supreme Court, Trump is arguing that he is immune from prosecution because, he claims, the acts with which he is charged fall within the scope of a president’s duties.

Public Citizen’s amicus brief explains that the acts cannot reasonably be claimed to fall within a president’s duties. A president has no specific constitutionally assigned role in the conduct of presidential elections. Any assertion that a president’s authority empowers him to conspire to overturn the result of a valid election and retain power beyond his term in office would be absurd.

“Accepting a view of the outer limits of presidential authority that would sweep in a conspiracy to overturn an election and remain in office unlawfully would have exceptionally broad implications and threaten severe damage to our constitutional democracy,” the brief states. “The Constitution does not silently prohibit holding a former president accountable to the law when he is alleged to have engaged in criminal violations aimed at overthrowing our constitutional form of government.”

“Trump’s legal theory defies common sense and would enable an almost limitless tyranny. Nothing in the Constitution – which aims to prevent tyranny – supports Trump’s theory,” stated Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.