Remember when Donald Trump famously boasted during his campaign that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and he “wouldn’t lose voters”? Well, that comment seems to have come full-circle with the most recent remarks from Trump legal adviser, Rudy Giuliani.
On Sunday, Giuliani told HuffPost that Trump’s executive powers were so extensive that he probably couldn’t even be indicted for shooting former FBI Director James Comey.
“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is,” Giuliani insisted. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
These comments come shortly after Giulian appeared on ABC’s This Week and said that “probably” possesses the constitutional power to pardon himself. “He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably — not to say he can’t.”
These sweeping and alarming statements about the president’s executive privilege are closely aligned with the remarks made by Trump’s lawyers in a memo sent to Robert Mueller in January of this year. In the memo, the lawyers claim that Trump is incapable of obstructing justice, thanks to the fact that he is head of all federal investigations. They argued that the Constitution allowed Trump to “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”
Giuliani later admitted on NBC’s Meet The Press that the notion of Trump pardoning himself is hypothetical and “unthinkable.”
However, it’s deeply unsettling that so many members of the Trump administration believe that the president has constitutional leeway to essentially rule with absolute authority.
Spoiler alert: that’s not how a democracy works. And if we do not insist on the president being culpable for his actions, we’re heading in a decidedly authoritarian direction.