Retired Military, Defense Leaders Urge SCOTUS To Deny Trump’s Presidential Immunity Claim

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Former heads of the armed forces and top generals warned of a threat to democracy should the court grant former president Donald Trump’s presidential immunity plea in an amicus brief filed Monday.

Retired four-star admirals and generals, along with former secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force argued granting the former president’s claim could undermine the Commander-in-Chief’s “legal and moral authority” should the Supreme Court accept Trump’s theory in the filing dated April 8. Oral arguments are set to take place on April 25 after the Supreme Court in February agreed to hear Trump’s case to dismiss the federal election interference case against him based on presidential immunity.

“We risk jeopardizing America’s standing as a guardian of democracy in the world and further feeding the spread of authoritarianism, thereby threatening the national security of the United States and democracies around the world,” the retired military and defense leaders wrote. (RELATED: Judge Denies Trump’s Bid To Delay Hush Money Case Based On Presidential Immunity)

Amici include retired Navy Adms. Steve Abbot, Samuel Jones Locklear, III, John B. Nathman, Bill Owens and Scott Swift; Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen; Army Gens. George Casey and Peter Chiarelli; Marine Corps Gens. Carlton W. Fulford, Jr., Charles Krulak and Robert Magnus; and Air Force Gens. Michael Hayden, John Jumper, Craig McKinley and Charles F. Wald.

Former Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and former Secretaries of the Navy Ray Mabus and Sean O’Keefe also signed on to the amicus brief.

Trump’s theory “has the potential to severely undermine the Commander-in-Chief’s legal and moral authority to lead the military forces, as it would signal that they but not he must obey the rule of law,” the filing stated.

The leaders said they drew on their experience as senior military leaders and mutual desire to safeguard American democracy.

Trump asked for a stay after a lower court’s determination he was not immune from prosecution in the case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. The case remains on hold.

“Presidential immunity from criminal prosecution would threaten the military’s role in American society, our nation’s constitutional order, and our national security,” the former military leaders wrote. “It also would have profoundly negative effects on military service members, who answer to the orders of the President as Commander-in-Chief.”

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