Donald Trump

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a debate with President Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia on June 27, 2024.

(Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

'Screaming the Quiet Part': Trump Advisers Say He's Ready to Embrace King-Like Powers

The U.S. Supreme Court's immunity decision has reportedly emboldened the presumptive GOP nominee to pursue his far-right agenda and authoritarian aims "without fear of punishment or restraint."

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump—who has pledged to be a dictator on "day one" if elected to another four years in the White House—is reportedly preparing to exploit the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Monday that current and former presidents are entitled to sweeping immunity from criminal prosecution.

Citing unnamed advisers to the former president, Axiosreported Tuesday that if Trump is reelected in November, he "plans to immediately test the boundaries of presidential and governing power, knowing the restraints of Congress and the courts are dramatically looser than during his first term."

"They're screaming the quiet part, and yet Democrats are mostly focused on renominating a sundowning 81-year-old losing to him in key swing state polls," The Lever's David Sirota wrote in response to Axios' reporting, referring to President Joe Biden.

Facing mounting calls to drop his reelection campaign following his disastrous debate performance against Trump last week, Biden said in an address following the Supreme Court's decision in Trump v. United States that the ruling means "there are virtually no limits on what a president can do."

"I know I will respect the limits of the presidential power, as I have for three and a half years," said Biden. "But any president, including Donald Trump, will now be free to ignore the law."

Among the steps Trump—who celebrated the ruling—intends to take swiftly upon assuming office following a possible November victory, according to Axios, are setting up "vast camps" to "deport millions of people," moving to "fire potentially tens of thousands of civil servants" and replace them with "pre-vetted loyalists," and centralizing "power over the Justice Department," which the former president has repeatedly threatened to wield against his political opponents.

Trump has also pledged to gut environmental rules—which the Supreme Court also targeted in recent rulings—and ram through climate-wrecking drilling projects, moves backed by the powerful oil and gas industry that's helping finance his campaign.

"Thanks to Monday's Supreme Court ruling, Trump could pursue his plans without fear of punishment or restraint," Axios reported.

While Trump made his support for such actions clear well before the U.S. Supreme Court's Monday ruling, the decision is likely to embolden the twice-impeached former president who, since leaving office, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on election-subversion charges and convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The high court's ideologically divided 6-3 decision in the immunity case has already impacted both legal proceedings, with Manhattan prosecutors agreeing Tuesday with the former president's request to delay his criminal sentencing on the 34 felony charges as the judge on the case examines whether the Supreme Court's ruling has any bearing on the conviction.

In the separate election-subversion case, the Supreme Court's ruling further pushes back a trial as the judge now has to determine which of the actions described in the indictment qualify as "official" duties that—according to the high court's right-wing supermajority—are entitled to "absolute immunity" from criminal prosecution.

"So, yes, all this will delay Trump's trial. In that sense, he gets what he craved," Michael Waldman, president and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote Monday. "But the implications are far worse for the structure of American self-government."

"We read sonorous language in the majority opinion that 'the president is not above the law,'" Waldman added. "But just in time for Independence Day, the Supreme Court brings us closer to having a king again."

"The Framers of the Constitution, wary of reestablishing the monarchy they overthrew, carefully limited the chief executive's powers. And six justices just crowned him king."

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent against Monday's decision that the Supreme Court's majority has effectively endorsed assassinations of political rivals, orchestration of a military coup to remain in power, and the acceptance of bribes in exchange for pardons as legitimate and unprosecutable uses of presidential authority.

"The relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably," Sotomayor wrote. "In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law."

Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern echoed Sotomayor, writing that "it is unclear, after Monday's decision, what constitutional checks remain to stop any president from assuming dangerous and monarchical powers that are anathema to representative government."

"The immediate impact of the court's sweeping decision will be devastating enough, allowing Donald Trump to evade accountability for the most destructive and criminal efforts he took to overturn the 2020 election. But the long-term impact is even more harrowing," Stern wrote. "All future presidents will enter office with the knowledge that they are protected from prosecution for even the most appalling and dangerous abuses of power so long as they insist they were seeking to carry out their duties, as they understood them."

"The Framers of the Constitution, wary of reestablishing the monarchy they overthrew, carefully limited the chief executive's powers," he added. "And six justices just crowned him king."

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