Supreme Court’s Presidential Immunity Ruling Paves Way for Trump to Weaponize DOJ, Experts Warn

Donald Trump in court during his hush money trial.

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday that afforded presidents broad immunity from criminal prosecution have triggered fears that Donald Trump would abuse his power if he’s elected to a second term and use the Justice Department to target his enemies.

Two former Justice Department officials told NBC News that Trump would be emboldened to exploit the DOJ to prosecute his political foes and go easy on allies. 

“It gives him tacit approval to keep doing it,” a former official, who asked not to be named, said of the court ruling. “It sets him up to do the things he has said: to investigate people and send them to jail.”

The former official said the ruling paves the way for Trump to avoid prosecution for future actions, pointing out that he was careful during his first term to avoid overtly asking someone to do something illegal. 

“The way that Trump works is that he never tells anyone to do anything overtly,” the former official said. “He hints, he pushes, he prods. He never needed to direct these people to do it. They went ahead and did it on their own.”

The ACLU said the ruling not only gives Trump “a free pass for his past crimes,” but it “sets a dangerous precedent for all future presidents.”

“If former President Trump manages to win November’s election, it does not take much imagination to see just what kinds of retribution, or worse, the court has now greenlighted him to pursue against his political enemies,” the ACLU wrote.

Legal experts are worried Trump will use the ruling to turn the Justice Department into a weapon against his enemies. 

“I do think that this is a norm-breaking opinion and I can imagine Trump using this as a basis for a complete destruction of DOJ independence,” Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield told the Associated Press.

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