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Trump offers defense of presidential immunity, cites Obama civilian drone deaths: ‘He meant well’

Former President Trump objected to critics’ arguments against presidential immunity, saying Thursday either himself or a future president could be stymied in urgent situations by circumspection around whether their executive actions might lead to punishment.

Trump told Fox News that, should presidential immunity be muted, when a president is taking unilateral actions as chief executive, the opposing political party could immediately begin strategizing how to prosecute their rival.

“I’m not talking about myself. I’m talking about [how] any president has to have immunity, because if you take immunity away from the president, it’s so important, you will have you have a president that’s not going to be able to do anything,” he said on “Hannity.”

“[W]hen he leaves office… the opposing party will indict the president for doing something that should have been good,” he said, pointing to reports of mistakes or misfires made by his predecessor trying to eradicate terrorists.

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“Obama dropped missiles and they ended up hitting a kindergarten or a school or an apartment house. A lot of people were killed. Well, if that’s the case, he’s going to end up being indicted when he leaves office.”

A New York Times report from 2019 said the Obama administration had estimated between 64 and 116 civilians had been killed in 542 airstrikes.

In that regard, Trump said Obama “meant well,” but suggested without presidential immunity, things might be different.

Trump later suggested Biden might have an even larger case for retaining presidential immunity.

“He’s killed our country with his policies. The border is a disaster. Everything he does is a disaster. What he did in Afghanistan is the most embarrassing moment in the history of our country… ” Trump said.

“Well, when he leaves office, if he doesn’t have immunity — now, I think it’s horrible what he did, but he probably, I don’t know, it’s hard to believe, but he probably meant well. It’s hard to believe that he meant well.”

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Trump said Biden is at the least incompetent, but that presidential immunity protects the incumbent from being afraid to act because of fear of indictment.

He expressed confidence the Supreme Court will rule in favor of retaining presidential immunity, as he awaits verdicts in both Washington and Atlanta federal cases.

Critics have blasted Trump for his stance, with MSNBC journalist Jonathan Lemire claiming Trump is trying to “reverse-engineer a not-guilty [verdict] from the trials that he’s facing, but also potentially try to give himself license to break whatever law he wants in a possible second term, to the point where it could even go to assassination.”

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“When Donald Trump tells us who he is or what he’s going to do, we should believe him,” Lemire said Thursday.

On “Hannity,” Trump added that he is also confident the Supreme Court will overturn the removal of his name from the ballot in Colorado and Maine, pointing out that many other states where the prospect has come up have decided against stripping him from the ticket.

“I really believe they’re going to leave the people to vote,” he said. “You’re the leading candidate in both parties. You’re leading the Democrats by many, many points. I mean, it’s hard to imagine they would do [it].” 

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