Tapper Insists SCOTUS Ruled Presidents Can Assassinate Political Rivals

News & Politics

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court released their ruling on the hotly contested issue of presidential immunity. The ruling was limited in that presidents had immunity for acts done in an official capacity under the office but certain acts – particularly those done outside the office of president – were not. But CNN’s Jake Tapper, who’s at the center of a $1 billion defamation suit against CNN, kept coming back to an insane, liberal conspiracy theory that the ruling opened the door to presidents assassinating their political rivals.

After playing oral argument audio from April, in which liberal Justice Sotomayor floated the bonkers notion of a president ordering SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, Tapper asked a panel of CNN legal analysts: “Did the court say, ‘Yeah, you can assassinate a political rival?’”

He was immediately rebuked by Elie Honig. “No, I don’t think they did,” he declared, barely letting Tapper finish the question. “The basis for Donald Trump’s legal argument that maybe he can order an assassination and still be okay. Is this preposterous argument that they offered below that, while a president can only be indicted if he’s first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. The Supreme Court explicitly rejected that argument; impeachment has nothing to do with this, that’s not the test.”

His fellow legal analysts also shot down Tapper’s suggestion (Click “expand”):

ELLIOT WILLIAMS: To your question, Jake, someone’s got to decide what’s the official act. Right? The challenge here, and this was what Sotomayor was getting at in her point, somebody has to make the call as to whether even the SEAL – the preposterous SEAL Team 6 example falls under the ambit of official acts and that’s litigation months in court?

JIM SCHULTZ: No. Agreed. I think that’s something that we’ll have to be decided by the trial court, if we were faced with that preposterous type of scenario, no doubt about it.

But less than two minutes later, Tapper latched on Sotomayor’s dissent to insist that his interpretation of the ruling was correct:

I wanna just read something from a Justice Sotomayor’s dissent on some of these issues that we’re talking about. “Let the president violate the law.” She writes in her dissent, “Let them exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain. Let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like them to be. That is the majority’s message today. Orders the Navy SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival: immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power: immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon: immune. Immune, immune, immune.”

He prefaced that reading with by bloviating about how “obviously there is a crisis of confidence in the U.S Supreme Court.”

CNN anchor Kasie Hunt, who has made a name for herself by shouting down criticism of CNN, agreed with Tapper that Sotomayor’s opinion was a “remarkable and very stark way to think about out it.”

Hunt went on to whine that she doesn’t like how the Supreme Court thinks about how their rulings affect “far into our future.” She argued that they “can’t pull it apart from the immediate political contexts in which we are living” and the threat former President Trump posed.

“[T]his is going to be viewed as much more of an inflammatory situation than perhaps it is when you consider that, yes, of course it’s writing history books as well,” she huffed.

CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel said the quiet part out loud when she asked the legal analysts about “one of the big concerns” in “getting evidence out in in front of voters before November.” “[W]ould an evidentiary hearing be a way for Jack Smith to get some of that evidence out there in the public record?” she wanted to know.

The transcript is below. Click “expand” to read:

CNN’s Trump Immunity Ruling
July 1, 2024
10:46 27 a.m. Eastern

(…)

JAKE TAPPER: That was a stunning moment in April, did the court say, “Yeah, you can assassinate a political rival?”

ELIE HONIG: No, I don’t think they did. That’s a ridiculous answer by Donald Trump’s team, a dangerous and reckless answered.

One really important thing. The basis for Donald Trump’s legal argument that maybe he can order an assassination and still be okay. Is this preposterous argument that they offered below that, while a president can only be indicted if he’s first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. The Supreme Court explicitly rejected that argument; impeachment has nothing to do with this, that’s not the test.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS: To your question, Jake, someone’s got to decide what’s the official act. Right? The challenge here, and this was what Sotomayor was getting at in her point, somebody has to make the call as to whether even the SEAL – the preposterous SEAL Team 6 example falls under the ambit of official acts and that’s litigation months in court?

JIM SCHULTZ: No. Agreed. I think that’s something that we’ll have to be decided by the trial court, if we were faced with that preposterous type of scenario, no doubt about it.

TAPPER: Jamie.

JAMIE GANGEL: I just have a quick question for lawyers. So, one of the big concerns is getting evidence out in in front of voters before November. We now don’t think a trial –

TAPPER: We’re not going to get it.

GANGEL:  – is possible.

TAPPER: No.

GANGEL: Is it possible – one lawyer just texted, would an evidentiary hearing be a way for Jack Smith to get some of that evidence out there in the public record?

HONIG: So the judge, district judge now has to have an evidentiary hearing. She can absolutely do that before the election. She can hear from witnesses – We’re not going to get a verdict, I guess the judge will say some things were official or unofficial, but there’s not going to be a convicted felon tag hang on, Donald Trump for this case.

(…)

10:48:16 a.m. Eastern

TAPPER: So, listen to this because obviously there is a crisis of confidence in the U.S Supreme Court –among many other institutions in America – and I wanna just read something from a Justice Sotomayor’s dissent on some of these issues that we’re talking about. “Let the president violate the law.” She writes in her dissent, “Let them exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain. Let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like them to be. That is the majority’s message today. Orders the Navy SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival: immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power: immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon: immune. Immune, immune, immune.” “That is the majority’s message today,” from Sonia Sotomayor.

KAIE HUNT: Yeah. I mean, it’s remarkable and very stark way to think about out it and you mentioned the crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court; our varying institutions. I just – I can’t help but think, while, on the one hand, yes, this is a decision that’s going to affect president’s far into our future, you can’t pull it apart from the immediate political contexts in which we are living.

TAPPER: Yep.

HUNT: And note that in a 5-4 decision like this split along ideological lines, like this is going to –

TAPPER: 5-4 or 6-3?

HUNT: Excuse me, I may have, I may have misspoken. It may have been 6-3. My fault. But still along ideological lines, I should say. Right? Is how this broke down?

TAPPER: Right. Yeah, yeah. No. Yeah. The court’s shifted.

HUNT: Right, you’re absolutely right. But it – it just I think that in the closely divided times in which we live, this is going to be viewed as much more of an inflammatory situation than perhaps it is when you consider that, yes, of course it’s writing history books as well.

(…)

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