Supreme Court live updates: White House reacts to immunity ruling

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(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court on Monday handed down a historic decision on whether a former president is shielded from criminal liability for “official acts” taken while in the White House.

In the case, Donald Trump aimed to secure such immunity to try to quash the federal election subversion prosecution brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

Smith charged Trump with four felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, over his efforts to hold onto power after his 2020 election loss. Trump pleaded not guilty and has denied any wrongdoing. The trial was set to start on March 4, but has been delayed while the high court considers the immunity question.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 01, 4:05 PM
Supreme Court’s liberal justices warn of ‘law-free zone’

While both the conservative and liberal Supreme Court justices agreed its ruling has far-reaching implications for the future of the presidency, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the impact would be chilling.

“Looking beyond the fate of this particular prosecution, the long-term consequences of today’s decision are stark,” she wrote. “The Court effectively creates a law-free zone around the President, upsetting the status quo that has existed since the Founding,” she said in her dissent.

Sotomayor was joined in her dissent by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Jackson described the majority’s threshold for deciding immunity on a case-by-case basis as complicated and convoluted. The model they laid out, she said, could leave presidents feeling more emboldened to act unlawfully.

“Having now cast the shadow of doubt over when — if ever — a former President will be subject to criminal liability for any criminal conduct he engages in while on duty, the majority incentivizes all future Presidents to cross the line of criminality while in office, knowing that unless they act ‘manifestly or palpably beyond [their] authority, they will be presumed above prosecution and punishment alike,” she wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts pushed back against the liberal dissents, saying they “strike a tone of chilling doom that is wholly disproportionate to what the Court actually does today.”

“Like everyone else, the President is subject to prosecution in his unofficial capacity. But unlike anyone else, the President is a branch of government, and the Constitution vests in him sweeping powers and duties. Accounting for that reality — and ensuring that the President may exercise those powers forcefully, as the Framers anticipated he would—does not place him above the law; it preserves the basic structure of the Constitution from which that law derives.”

-ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler

Jul 01, 3:39 PM
Seal Team 6 hypothetical assassination referenced in dissent

In their dissents, both justices Sotomayor and Jackson addressed the question of whether a president would have immunity from criminal prosecution for acts of murder — including ordering the assassination of a political rival.

In their dissents, both Sotomayor and Jackson addressed the question of whether a president would have immunity from criminal prosecution for acts of murder — including ordering the assassination of a political rival.

When the president “uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution,” Sotomayor said in her dissent. “Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune.”

ABC News Supreme Court contributor Kate Shaw said on ABC News Live Monday that she agreed with the dissenting opinion that ordering the hypothetical assassination could be considered immune from criminal prosecution.

“In terms of the application of this immunity to very extreme scenarios like ordering an assassination, I’m not sure the majority successfully explains why this rule would not shield that kind of conduct if it’s engaged in an official capacity, even if it’s wildly wrong and dangerous and destructive,” she said. “If that conduct is done in official capacity, I think the dissent is right on this opinion’s own logic. It would be immune, and that is a genuinely chilling implication of this case.”

The SEAL Team 6 assassination hypothetical was raised during oral arguments on the case in April.

Sotomayor raised it first while questioning Trump attorney John Sauer. She pointed back to an earlier exchange Sauer had in a lower court proceeding.

“I’m going to give you a chance to say … if you stay by it: If the president decides that his rival is a corrupt person and he orders the military, or orders someone, to assassinate him — is that within his official acts for which he can get immunity?” she asked during oral arguments.

“It would depend on the hypothetical,” Sauer answered. “We could see that could well be an official act.”

-ABC News’ Meredith Deliso and Alexandra Hutzler

Jul 01, 3:34 PM
White House spokesman reacts to SCOTUS ruling

Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, released a statement about the ruling stating, “As President Biden has said, nobody is above the law.”

“That is a core American principle and how our system of justice works. We need leaders like President Biden who respect the justice system and don’t tear it down,” Sams added.

-ABC News’ Selina Wang

Jul 01, 3:24 PM
Election interference judge does not mention Supreme Court decision during hearing

Washington, D.C., District Judge Tanya Chutkan did not mention or make any remarks about the Supreme Court’s presidential immunity ruling during her first public hearing on Monday since the Supreme Court court sent Trump’s Jan 6 case back to her.

At one point during a status hearing for a Jan 6. defendant, when Judge Chutkan was asked about a trial date, she said “my calendar is…” as she made a face and laughed.

-ABC News’ Laura Romero

Jul 01, 1:32 PM
RNC, DNC chairs react to immunity ruling

The heads of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee both released statements following the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling.

RNC chair Michael Whatley said “today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law and a reminder that the Constitution outweighs the left’s weaponization of the judicial system against President Trump and his allies.”

DNC Chair Jamie Harrison, however, argued the “ruling only underscores the stakes of this election,” in light of Trump’s repeated threats against his opponents.

“The only thing standing between Donald Trump and his threats to our democracy is President Biden — and the American people will stand once again on the side of democracy this November,” he said.

Jul 01, 12:33 PM
Trump argues decision ‘should end all’ cases against him

Trump spoke about the ruling in another post on his social media platform arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision “should end all of Crooked Joe Biden’s Witch Hunts against me.”

The former president specifically cited his Manhattan hush-money case, in which Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. He is slated to be sentenced this month in the hush-money case.

Trump also cited the New York attorney general civil case against his businesses’ fraudulent practices and the E. Jean Carroll defamation case.

Jul 01, 12:11 PM
Barrett disagrees with ruling’s stance on evidence

Although Justice Amy Coney Barrett sided with the majority on the presidential immunity case, she dissented on a section of the ruling that limits what evidence can be used against a president at trial.

Barrett brought up a hypothetical situation of a bribery case against a president, arguing while there are clear federal laws that prohibit the commander-in-chief from accepting bribes, excluding evidence would “hamstring the prosecution.”

“To make sense of charges alleging a quid pro quo, the jury must be allowed to hear about both the quid and the quo, even if the quo, standing alone, could not be a basis for the President’s criminal liability,” she wrote in her concurring opinion.

“I appreciate the Court’s concern that allowing into evidence official acts for which the President cannot be held criminally liable may prejudice the jury … But the rules of evidence are equipped to handle that concern on a case-by-case basis,” Barrett added.

-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders

Jul 01, 11:47 AM
Trump fundraises off immunity ruling

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign sent out an email fundraising off the Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity.

“BREAKING FROM TRUMP: Supreme Court gives TOTAL IMMUNITY for official acts!” Trump campaign’s fundraising email said.

“Official acts cannot be illegally prosecuted – BIG WIN FOR DEMOCRACY &; OUR CONSTITUTION!” the fundraising email continues, calling the case a “witch hunt” and saying it “should’ve never happened.”

Jul 01, 11:34 AM
Jackson argues ruling ‘breaks new and dangerous ground’

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson issued a dissent in the Supreme Court’s presidential immunity ruling arguing it “breaks new and dangerous ground.”

“So, how does this new Presidential accountability model work? An initial problem is the lack of clarity regarding what this new model entails,” she wrote.

Jackson added that the ruling “unilaterally altered the balance of power between the three coordinate branches of our Government as it relates to the Rule of Law, aggrandizing power in the Judiciary and the Executive, to the detriment of Congress.”

Jackson and Justice Sonia Sotomayor both penned dissents. Justice Elena Kagan joined Sotomayor in her dissent.

The split 6-3 opinion was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Jul 01, 11:16 AM
‘It makes a mockery of the principle … that no man is above the law,’ Sotomayor says in dissent

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pushed back against the conservative justices’ ruling on former President Donald Trump’s immunity case.

Sotomayor contended in her dissent that the ruling “makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law.”

She argued the conservative justices invented “an atextual, ahistorical, and unjustifiable immunity that puts the President above the law.”

“That holding, which will prevent the Government from using a President’s official acts to prove knowledge or intent in prosecuting private offenses, is nonsensical. Argument by argument, the majority invents immunity through brute force,” she added.

Sotomayor also said the ruling opens up the possibility that when a president uses their official powers in any way, they will be “insulated from criminal prosecution.”

“Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune,” Sotomayor wrote.

Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson joined Sotomayor in her dissent.

The split 6-3 opinion was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Jul 01, 11:03 AM
Special counsel Jack Smith declines to comment

Special counsel Jack Smith’s office declined to comment on the Supreme Court ruling, a spokesperson told ABC News.

The court’s ruling will affect whether former President Donald Trump faces a federal trial this year on four felony counts brought by Smith, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruction of an official proceeding, for his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

Jul 01, 10:48 AM
Trump reacts to SCOTUS ruling

Former President Donald Trump released a statement about the Supreme Court’s presidential immunity decision in a post on his social media platform.

“BIG WIN FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!” Trump wrote on Monday morning.

Jul 01, 10:44 AM
Biden campaign reacts to SCOTUS ruling

A senior Biden campaign advisor released a statement about the court’s ruling on immunity, stating, “Today’s ruling doesn’t change the facts, so let’s be very clear about what happened on January 6: Donald Trump snapped after he lost the 2020 election and encouraged a mob to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.”

The campaign argued that Trump “thinks he’s above the law and is willing to do anything to gain and hold onto power for himself.”

Jul 01, 10:36 AM
Supreme Court rules president has no immunity for unofficial acts

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on the immunity case against former President Donald Trump stating, “The President enjoys no immunity for his unofficial acts, and not everything the President does is official.

The ruling, in which all of the liberal justices dissented,” added, “The President is not above the law. But under our system of separated powers, the President may not be prosecuted for exercising his core constitutional powers, and he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for his official acts.”

Jul 01, 9:41 AM
‘It’s a BIG decision,’ Trump says

With the Supreme Court poised to rule in Trump’s presidential immunity case, former President Donald Trump is continuing to push his defense, saying Monday’s decision with be a “big” and “important” one.


“It is a BIG decision, an important decision, a decision which can affect the Success or Failure of our Country for decades to come. We want a GREAT Country, not a weak, withering, and ineffective one. STRONG PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY IS A MUST!” Trump posted on his social media platform on Sunday.

Jul 01, 9:35 AM
View from Trump’s legal world ahead of today’s ruling

While Trump’s team is focused on the implications this ruling will have on the Jan. 6 case, they are also particularly interested in how this could affect his other outstanding criminal cases.

Why’s that?

Trump’s lawyers have an outstanding motion to dismiss the Florida classified documents case based on presidential immunity.

While it’s not likely that case will go to trial before the election, the judge in that case, Judge Aileen Cannon, has indicated she wants to wait for the Supreme Court decision before she entertains that motion. And, given her unpredictability, the Trump legal team believes the ruling could give Cannon yet another avenue to throw the case’s future in doubt.

The best case scenario for Trump’s lawyers would be for the Supreme Court to rule he has full immunity for any actions taken while in office, which is not likely. The worst case would be that the justices uphold lower court rulings that said criminal laws apply to ex-presidents like they apply to everyone.

What do they expect? Not a full win for either side.

If the Supreme Court says its mandate could go into effect immediately, Trump’s lawyers expect Judge Tanya Chutkan to get the ball rolling very soon after in the Jan. 6 case and likely schedule a briefing in the next week and a status conference once the mandate is docketed.

There would also likely be action in Florida, where Judge Cannon could move to schedule a briefing or an in-person hearing on the motion to dismiss.

Jul 01, 9:19 AM
‘Disturbing’: What legal experts had to say about immunity arguments

When the justices appeared open to the idea of some level of immunity for former presidents, it was a shock for many veteran court observers.

“It was surprising to hear, at least from some of the justices, the possibility that a president could somehow commit criminal misconduct for which they could never be held liable in court,” said constitutional law expert Michael Gerhardt. “I think that has struck many people as just, up until now, inconceivable.”

One point that stood out to Gerhardt was when Justice Elena Kagan pressed Trump attorney John Sauer if a president could order the military to stage a coup and be immune. Sauer said, in their view, a president could.

“The answer that she got was one of the most disturbing I’ve ever heard at the Supreme Court,” he said.

Read more about reaction to the April arguments here.

Jul 01, 6:41 AM
Five key takeaways from arguments heard in April

The high court in April heard historic arguments on whether former President Donald Trump can be criminally prosecuted related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

Trump denies all wrongdoing and insists he should have “absolute immunity” for any “official acts” while in office.

Read the five takeaways from arguments this past April.

Jul 01, 6:35 AM
Court will convene at 10 a.m.

The Supreme Court is expected to convene at 10 a.m. Monday.

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