Chris Hayes Warns Trump’s Immunity Claim Is ‘a Vision of American Dictatorship’ | Video

On Tuesday Trump’s lawyer argued that a president cannot be prosecuted even if they have their enemies assassinated

On Tuesday, during a hearing to review the disgraced former president’s claim of post-presidential immunity, Donald Trump’s lawyer made an astonishing argument that American presidents effectively cannot be prosecuted for any crimes committed while in office, even having their political enemies murdered.

And during Tuesday’s episode of “All In,” a visibly unnerved Chris Hayes declared this to be “some of the most breathtaking, aggressive, public articulation of a vision of American dictatorship as we have ever seen.” You can watch his full commentary in the clip above right now.

But first, for those who didn’t see the news today, we weren’t exaggerating. In a Washington, D.C. court hearing over the claim of ‘presidential immunity’ that Trump is trying to use to evade prosecution for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, his attorneys were asked several direct questions about the implications of their defense. And as part of that, the attorneys argued that if a president ordered Seal Team 6 to murder their political enemies, the only way he could be prosecuted for that is if they were first convicted during an impeachment trial.

If they aren’t convicted in an impeachment hearing, Trump’s lawyers said, then they can never be prosecuted for the crimes ever again. And through this claim, Hayes said as he opened Tuesday’s show, “history was made in front of the entire country today.”

Explaining what happened, Hayes (accurately) characterized Trump’s defense as an argument “that a president can effectively do what ever he wants, no matter how malevolent without any legal consequences.”

“The official position of Donald Trump is that as long as he or any president can hold on to 35 votes in the Senate to avoid impeachment conviction, there can be no, as a matter of the constitutional bedrock of American law, there can be no criminal accountability for anything he does, no matter how violent or evil,” Hayes explained.

“All you got to do is hold on to 35 votes. You hold on to 35 votes in the Senate and you can have your political opponents murdered, you can have anyone murdered, you can do whatever you want. You got 35 votes in the Senate. And there is nothing anyone can do anywhere in this country under the structure, they say, of the Constitution. They are not trying to hide it,” the MSNBC host continued.

“Trump’s argument is some of the most breathtaking, aggressive, public articulation of a vision of American dictatorship as we have ever seen,” Hayes added.

Hayes noted that this argument was being made on behalf of someone who is trying to become president again, and though “thankfully, the three judges seemed appropriately skeptical,” Hayes worried about what this could mean should the argument succeed in the courts.

“It just seems obviously the case that there has to be some kind of legal accountability, the possibility of it,” Hayes said. “I mean, if a former President tried to steal an election is running for the White House again to finish the job. What self respecting republic wouldn’t have a way of defending itself against an enemy such as that?”

“All of it today was just about as chilling a warning as to what is at stake in this election as anything we’ve encountered thus far, which is saying something, save for the actual bloody spectacle of January 6,” Hayes said later as he neared the end of the segment.

“Today’s arguments were clearly a test. They felt like that in the moment, we could feel it. Like, is this gonna hold? Are the guardrails of our democracy still in place? Or is Trump gonna be allowed to become a dictator he’s always dreamed of being, free from any legal accountability for his actions? Everyone in that room today, I hazard to say, understood that everyone listening at home should as well,” Hayes concluded.

As for the constitutionality of it, this article isn’t being written by a constitutional law expert, but it is worth noting that the text of the constitution makes it clear that impeachment is not a criminal trial of any kind, nor is it presented as a pre-requisite to criminal charges. Impeachment is, simply put, the sole means by which a president can be removed from office forcibly. That’s it.

And because it requires 2/3 of the senate — currently that’s 65 Senators — in order to convict an impeached president, it’s arguably an impossibly high bar to make it a prerequisite to criminal prosecution. Which of course appears to be the point of Trump’s argument.

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