If you listened to or read about Donald Trump’s presidential immunity appeal on Tuesday, you know that it was pretty much a slam dunk for the prosecution. All three of the federal appeals court judges were openly skeptical and pretty obviously unpersuaded that he was immune from prosecution for anything he did while in office unless he had been impeached and convicted.
In case that’s not enough to persuade you that the hearing went badly for the wannabe dictator, Jonathan Turley’s opinion should. You know that if anything good happened for Trump in the hearing, legal propagandist Turley would have said so and made it front and center.
Instead, Turley resorted to throwing around a lot of bothsidesism in an effort to distract from Trump attorney D. John Sauer’s jaw-dropping argument that a president could order the assassination of a political rival and be immune from prosecution under certain circumstances.
Turley was asked if Sauer was right. “I don’t believe it is the case,” Turley said. Then he immediately deflected to throwing shade at the question and the prosecutors by suggesting they were being hyperbolic: “You know, this was really, I think, very illustrative of how the argument went. It was a series of jump scares. Both sides were presenting these parades of horribles that would come if you don’t accept our argument.”
But it was one of the judges who asked that hypothetical, not a prosecutor. Not that Fox anchor Sandra Smith pointed that out to viewers.
Turley went on to opine that he doesn’t think the judges were persuaded. But he also claimed, “there’s still a lot of ambiguity there.” Then he threw out another mouthful of legalese about whether or not the “outer parameters of presidential authority or duties” fit within the “gray area” of Nixon v. Fitzgerald. As if Fox viewers would know anything about that case or its parameters.
“The Supreme Court and the lower courts have struggled for this, and it’s not clear, and so there’s legitimate debate here,” Turley added.
That got him an appreciative murmur from Smith.
But Turley still has some scruples that occasionally show up. He finally admitted, “I did not come away thinking the panel was likely to rule with the former president.” The only question seemed to be how the panel would dispense with the appeal. “But what is clear is that it won’t take much time,” he said.