Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) said on Sunday that Donald Trump’s presidential immunity defense is “legitimate” after suggesting in 2021 that Trump could be prosecuted for his role in the Capitol attack.
Graham, who led the effort to acquit Trump in the Senate trial after his impeachment in the House for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, argued at the time that Trump’s “conduct is subject to the law of the land” and he could face prosecution after he left office.
During an interview on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ Sunday, host Margaret Brennan asked Graham whether he still stands by those comments.
“Yeah, it depends on what the conduct is,” Graham said. “Now, if you’re doing your job as president and January 6th he was still president, trying to find out if the election, you know, was on the up and up. I think his immunity claim, I don’t know how it will- will bear out, but I think it’s a legitimate claim.”
Trump has been indicted at the federal and state level for his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Pressed on whether he thinks a president should be immune from prosecution if he committed a felony, Graham said nobody is immune from the law, then proceeded to defend Trump who is basically arguing he is immune from the law.
“Well, it depends on- right. I mean, nobody is immune from the law. But you do have presidential immunity to do your job,” Graham said. “I mean, I have immunity to do my job under the Speech and Debate Clause. That’s what the legal issue is. This went before the nation through impeachment, he got acquitted.”
“I think January 6th is baked into the cake. I think the [Special Counsel] Jack Smith cases are not changing the political outcome in polling,” he continued. “We’ll see what the court does.”
US District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump’s immunity claim earlier this month, ruling that he does not have a “lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.”
Trump’s lawyers have since asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to throw out his federal election subversion case arguing that the former president has absolute immunity.
On Saturday, Smith urged the court to reject Trump’s immunity defense.
“Rather than vindicating our constitutional framework, the defendant’s sweeping immunity claim threatens to license Presidents to commit crimes to remain in office,” Smith wrote in an 82-page filing. “The Founders did not intend and would never have countenanced such a result.”