Biden: Trump's immunity decision leaves 'virtually no limits' on presidency

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President Biden on Monday harshly criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to largely shield presidents from criminal prosecution while serving in office, calling it a “dangerous precedent.” 

“For all practical purposes, today’s decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits on what a president can do. It’s a fundamentally new principle,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “It’s a dangerous precedent, because the power of the office will no longer be constrained by the law, even including the Supreme Court of the United States.”

“The only limits will be self-imposed by the president alone,” he added.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued its long-anticipated opinion on presidential immunity in which a 6-3 conservative majority ruled that presidents have absolute immunity for actions that fall within the core responsibilities of their office and are presumptively immune in all other official acts.

The ruling delivered a win for Trump, who is using the immunity defense in a federal election subversion case in which he is charged over his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss and for his actions leading up to Jan. 6.

Biden, speaking from the White House in unexpected remarks upon returning from Camp David, used the opportunity to warn American voters about making their own judgements when they take to the polls in November.

“The American people must decide if Trump’s embrace of violence to preserve his power is acceptable. Perhaps most importantly, the American people must decide if they want to entrust … the presidency to Donald Trump, now knowing he will be even more emboldened to do whatever he pleases whenever he wants to do it.”

The remarks are Biden’s first from the White House since he debated Trump last week. He has been hit with criticism over his poor performance and calls for him to step down from the 2024 race. After his five minutes of remarks on Monday evening, he did not take questions, despite calls from allies like Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) for him to speak unscripted more often so he can ease concerns among Americans over his age.

In his White House remarks, Biden harshly criticized the court and said he would respect presidential powers — though the immunity shield handed down from the high court applies to all future presidents, including Biden, should he serve a second term.

“It will depend on the character of the men and women who hold that presidency that are going to define the limits of the power of the presidency because the law will no longer do it,” Biden said. “I know I will respect the limits of the presidential powers as I have for three and a half years, but any president, including Donald Trump, will now be free to ignore the law.”

Biden closed his remarks by saying he agreed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of the court’s three liberal justices, who wrote a scathing dissent in which she said the decision makes the president “a king above the law.”

“So should the American people dissent. I dissent. May God bless you all and may God help preserve our democracy,” he said.

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