70 percent in new poll reject Trump presidential immunity claim

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A large majority of Americans surveyed in a new poll reject former President Trump’s legal argument that presidents should be immune from criminal prosecution for alleged crimes committed while in office.

The POLITICO Magazine/Ipsos poll, released Monday, showed 70 percent of respondents reject this argument, while only 11 percent say presidents should be immune from criminal prosecution. Another 18 percent say they don’t know.

The presidential immunity argument didn’t hold much weight when broken down by partisan affiliation, pollsters noted.

A plurality of Republicans, 48 percent, say presidents should not be immune, while only 24 percent disagree. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans surveyed say they don’t know.

The presidential immunity argument was overwhelmingly rejected by Democrats (92 percent) and independents (75 percent), while only 3 percent of Democrats and 8 percent of independents say presidents should be immune from criminal prosecution for actions taken while in office.

The survey comes after the Supreme Court decided late last month to hear Trump’s presidential immunity claim in special counsel Jack Smith’s case alleging the former president conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss.

The Supreme Court’s order established an expedited schedule, setting up oral arguments during the week of April 22 and likely enabling the landmark decision to be handed down by the end of June or sooner. The order last month marked the first time that the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump appointees, agreed to take up any of the former president’s criminal cases.

If the conservative-majority court ultimately sides against Trump, as many legal observers expect, it would then allow Smith’s prosecution to move forward, providing the judge with a window to still schedule the trial before November’s election. The case is on hold for now, though, after it had initially been set to begin earlier this month.

Trump’s legal team is specifically making the case that the federal election subversion indictment should be tossed because the former president has absolute presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. Trump has made similar arguments in his Georgia election interference and classified documents cases. He has pleaded not guilty in all these cases.

The presidential immunity argument has been rejected by both Trump’s trial judge and a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant,” the D.C. Circuit panel wrote in its 57-page decision earlier this month.

“We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,” the decision continued. “Careful evaluation of these concerns leads us to conclude that there is no functional justification for immunizing former Presidents from federal prosecution in general or for immunizing former President Trump from the specific charges in the Indictment.”

The Politico poll was conducted March 8-10 and had a sample of 1,024 U.S. adults, who were interviewed online. There was a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points for all respondents.

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