Trump Says Federal Prosecution Is ‘The Way They’re Going To Try And Win’

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Former President Donald Trump made the inflammatory suggestion Tuesday that President Joe Biden is personally directing federal prosecutions against him in order to win the 2024 presidential election.

Speaking after a critical appellate court hearing in Washington, Trump told reporters, “I think it’s very unfair when a political opponent is prosecuted by the DOJ, by Biden’s DOJ,” referring to the Department of Justice.

“This is the way they’re going to try and win,” Trump said, adding: “It will be bedlam in the country.”

Trump walked away from the podium amid a flurry of follow-up questions.

“You just used the word ‘bedlam.’ Will you tell your supporters now, ‘No matter what, no violence’?” one reporter asked.

Trump did not respond.

The ex-president sat in the courtroom Tuesday as his legal team argued before a panel of judges that Trump should be afforded presidential immunity for actions he took while serving in office — an attempt to dismiss the federal criminal charges against him for meddling in the 2020 presidential election. (Trump framed this effort as a battle against voter fraud, once again falsely claiming there had been widespread illegal voting.)

Trump attorney John Sauer argued that in order for presidents to be prosecuted, they must first be impeached and convicted by Congress. Trump was impeached by the House for conduct that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, but he was not convicted by the Senate.

The appellate judges appeared to regard Sauer’s argument with high skepticism.

Trump’s team has argued broadly that presidents need to be able to do their jobs without fear of prosecution after leaving office.

As Trump put it on Tuesday: “A president has to have immunity. And the other thing is, I did nothing wrong.”

Special counsel Jack Smith, who also appeared in the courtroom alongside many members of his team, has countered that presidents must be constrained by U.S. law.

“The defendant’s sweeping immunity claim threatens to license Presidents to commit crimes to remain in office. The Founders did not intend and would never have countenanced such a result,” Smith’s team said in a late December filing.

Several high-profile figures, including Trump’s former defense secretary, Mark Esper, have referred to Trump as an existential threat to democracy.

Trump acknowledged those criticisms after the hearing, telling reporters: “When they talk about a threat to democracy, that’s your real threat to democracy.”

Yet Trump lacks evidence to back up his claim.

Smith, a veteran federal prosecutor, was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to act as an independent investigator of Trump’s conduct during and after his term. Biden has consistently distanced himself from the indictments, saying he learned about the charges alongside the public.

Garland said in October that he would quit if Biden attempted to interfere.

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