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Supreme Court Rules on Trump's Claim of Immunity in Election Case; Trump Has Immunity From Official Acts. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 10:30   ET




KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- because and this decision because there was a lot of conversation as to, OK, the court rules in favor on January 6, obviously, saying the DOJ overstepped on some of these charges of obstruction of people who participated in January 6th. That is a win for the Trump team, whether or not it actually affects his case, they can at least politically say that this, to them, is the DOJ overstepping, it's Biden's DOJ.

But when you look at the fact that Amy Coney Barrett was the one who was dissenting an opinion there, that kind of changes things. What does that actually mean for the immunity case here? Now, the other person that they're looking at very carefully, Justice Kavanaugh. He is somebody who has spoken at length before he was actually brought to the Supreme Court about the separation of powers. And so, they're looking to see what he does in this case. Well, he had a lot of questions. And he sounded actually skeptical on the other side.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's a great point. I mean, because we saw -- a lot of these justices have worked for the executive branch. And so, they obviously wanted to explore this question themselves to see, you know, the question they ultimately posed, which wasn't really even discussed in the arguments, which was, you know, do presidents have immunity? And if so, to what extent?

Paula Reid, I know you've been listening to this decision. What have we heard?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We have. Of course, this is not a thumbs up, thumbs down. This is a complicated decision. We just got it here. It's an opinion from Chief Justice John Roberts finding that former presidents are entitled to absolute immunity for official acts, but not for unofficial acts.

So, what does that translate to? Well, this is something we saw that was sort of signaled in oral arguments. Because what this means is that the former president cannot be prosecuted for anything that was officially part of his job when he was in office. And that's significant because even his own lawyers conceded during oral argument that not everything that is alleged in this indictment was an official act. So, now, the question is, what does the special counsel do here? He could potentially try to cull down this indictment to a more narrow one, just focusing on unofficial acts, and then try to proceed with this case. Still an open question, though, about whether even a slimmed down case could go before the election. Three reasons for that.

One, the judge overseeing this, Judge Tanya Chutkan, she has a signal that the lawyers should get some lead time on this. I mean, we're a couple months out from the election. The idea of putting the candidate, the Republican candidate, for the presidency on trial, where he would have to be in court, months, weeks before the elections, that's something that would likely have us right here again before the Supreme Court. Also, the attorney general unlikely to allow something to go ahead that quickly, but we'll see.

But right now, this decision, the Supreme Court finding that former presidents are entitled to absolute immunity for official acts, but not for unofficial acts. This opinion very, very long. It's going to take us a while to get through everything.

COLLINS: Yes, an opinion from the chief justice, John Roberts, as we expected. Anderson, obviously we are still reading through this decision from this appeal followed in February. Now, at least getting some answer from the Supreme Court on this important matter.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, reading through it as are -- we as well. Joey Jackson, your initial take on what you've read so far.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, listen, that's not surprising that it would be for official acts versus unofficial acts. The critical thing I'm looking to determine is how that determination is going to be made and how is it going to affect this president at this time? Is that going to be remanded down to the lower court for them to make that determination? Will it be a judicial determination or, again, will that be a matter left up for the jury? So, what happens now is really what I'm looking to get there through to see

COOPER: Obviously the key, if it's remanded down to a lower court, that just means it's going to take more time. And the chance of this going to trial before an election is almost nonexistent.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: That chance was already pretty slim going into this. It almost seems likely, at this point, it's almost impossible for that to happen as quickly as it would need to happen for there to be a trial. The court, it seems like, really needed to establish that the official acts of a president had to be protected. It says here, to enable the president to carry out his constitutional duties without undue caution.

However, even the president's lawyers, as we were just talking about, acknowledged that some of the things that he was charged with were not official acts. And so, it's clear here that there's at least some part of this indictment that he is facing from Jack Smith's case that even his own lawyers would not argue are official parts of the president's duties. COOPER: The Supreme Court could have ruled -- and again, we're still reading this, but could have ruled determining, OK, this act was official, this act was not official, it sounds like at this stage, and again, we got to read this whole thing, that more than likely, it's now just going to be pushed down to a lower court.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: They did a little bit of both. I do have one part of this that I can read. The parts of the indictment that dealt with Trump's communications with the Justice Department, this court, the Supreme Court, said were official acts and therefore, cannot be prosecuted. Because the president cannot be prosecuted for conduct within his exclusive constitutional authority, Trump is absolutely immune from prosecution for the alleged conduct involving his discussions with Justice Department officials.


So, that's part of the indictment. It does not cover, however, his discussions with then Vice President Pence. The court specifically says that the district court has to weigh in on the discussions with Vice President Pence and also Trump's discussions with state and local officials, those discussions the district court will have to weigh in on.

COOPER: He also, we should to point out, hired a -- you know, was using private attorneys to pursue his election claims, which is something that was brought up in the oral argument. Tim?

TIM NAFTALL, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This is -- this decision is going to make it much harder for the American people to protect themselves from a corrupt president. The fact that the discussions with Vice President Pence have a presumption of immunity, it has to be determined by the district court, though, is -- has a chilling effect.

COOPER: Let's check in with Kaitlan Collins with new information. Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, Anderson, obviously, we're reading through this part. And of course, that key part about Vice President Pence, because that is going to be a major aspect of this. We are getting some initial reactions from the Trump legal team on this, Paula and Kristen, what are we hearing from them as -- they're just now -- I mean, they haven't made it through this either, I should note, they are just reading it in real-time as we are. But what are you hearing from them right off the bat?

REID: They describe this as "a major victory." Now, this was authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, and I want to read the key paragraph here.

COLLINS: And this is from The Opinion from Chief Justice Roberts.

REID: Exactly, this is from The Opinion, and really this is the decision in a nutshell. He says, we conclude that under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of presidential power requires that a former president have some immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts during his tenure in office, at least with respect to the president's exercise of his core constitutional powers, this immunity must be absolute. As for remaining official actions, he's also entitled to immunity. So, at this stage of the proceedings in the Trump case, they say, we need not and do not decide whether that immunity must be absolute or instead, whether a presumptive immunity is sufficient.

So, they are leaving a little bit of wiggle room, saying that there's absolute immunity for anything that is connected to a president's core constitutional powers beyond that, though it may just be a presumptive -- a presumption of immunity. So, here the headline, former presidents are entitled to some immunity. The Trump team telling me this is "a major victory" for the former president.

COLLINS: But they're essentially also saying it's up to Judge Chutkan, who we have seen how she has aggressively overseen this case. She has been very tight with timelines. She's acted differently than any other judge overseeing any other of the Trump cases and how swiftly she has moved, maybe with exception of Justice Merchan in New York. But they're basically saying it's up to her to decide when it comes to his conversations with Mike Pence and his efforts to influence him about -- to stop the certification of the Electoral College certification of the vote, whether that was official or unofficial, because they're saying, obviously, conversations between a president and a vice president are official acts of the office.

But when it comes to Trump's pressure campaign on Mike Pence, what I'm reading here is that the presumption of immunity is rebutted under the circumstances. They're saying it's the government's burden to rebut the presumption of immunity. And that they're remanding to the district court to assess in the first instance whether a prosecution involving Trump's alleged attempts to influence the vice president's oversight of the certification would pose any dangers on the intrusion of authority and the functions of the executive branch.

And regular people speak, that's a big decision for Judge Chutkan to decide here.

REID: Yes, and she's moved very quickly. She wanted to bring this entire case to trial in March. Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court back in December to weigh in on this question that is being decided right now. So, this case could go before the election.

The fact that the Supreme Court has opened the door, though, for further proceedings, for further litigation makes it unlikely that this will go before November. And the reason that is significant is because if Trump is re-elected, he can make this case and the classified documents case go away. So, when it comes to the immediate future, the reason they're framing this as a major victory is because they're going to be able to litigate this for several months and possibly push this off until after November, then all he has to do is get elected and the case goes away. So, I believe that is why they're thinking of this in terms of a major victory.

And even a judge like Tanya Chutkan who has moved so quickly, so aggressively, who has agreed with the special counsel that there was a public interest in pushing this case before the election, it's not clear that she's going to be able to get through all of these issues and put on a trial before November.

HOLMES: And one thing, just to add to that, is that they were already tracking that if everything went wrong for them and this proceeded, that this wouldn't happen until late September, possibly October. There is a belief that even if Judge Chutkan moves as fast as she possibly can to get through this, which is likely, given what we've seen that she will, there is extra litigation that now has to happen that will push it beyond November.

And again, I mean, this is text after text here. They're celebrating this entirely just because of the fact, not because that they think that they won something, you know, overall, but because they know that this is likely to delay this past election.

COLLINS: Yes, the Supreme Court's actually rejecting their initial argument, but still splitting the baby (ph) enough that they can view this as a win, Jake.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. No, I think that's exactly right, Kaitlan. Right now, I'm looking at an excerpt from the Roberts written decision. He says, "Trump asserts a far broader immunity than the limited one we have recognized," meaning the court. The text of the clause provides little support for the absolute immunity claim that Trump asserts. So, they're rejecting that.

But in essence, all of the details as to the allegations made, the accusations made in the Jack Smith indictment of Donald Trump, not all of them, but many of them, the court is saying, we are sending this back to the district court. They have to decide whether Trump's communications with the American people, calling them to rally to the Capitol on January 6th and everything that happened after that, the disruption of the counting of the electoral votes, the sham electors' scheme, all of that, whether or not that's an official act, has to be determined by the U.S. District Court.

And, Elie Honig, you were saying, what's most significant about that is the U.S. Supreme Court could have said, we're remanding this to the district courts or the lower courts and whatever they say goes, and we will uphold that. They didn't say that.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly. To the contrary. This case will not go before the election. It will not be tried before the election, and here's why. Supreme Court has just said there is such thing as criminal immunity. The test, as we anticipated, is essentially official acts versus unofficial acts. We're sending it back to the district court and -- and this is an important detail, the court says several times, whatever the district court finds can be appealed before trial.

Jack Smith had made an argument of, well, maybe the district judge, the trial judge can work it out and send it to the jury and then the jury can separate official from unofficial acts. Several times in this opinion, the Supreme Court, the majority, says explicitly, whatever the judge decides about what's official or unofficial, what's immune or not immune, that can be appealed back up. Zero percent chance that happens before November.

TAPPER: So, why do that? I mean, if they are saying, hey, we're the U.S. Supreme Court, and we're going to have the final say on this, no matter what, why not just make it clear everything's delineated in the indictment? Why not just make it clear? And, if Judge Chutkan decides X, Y, or Z, we will agree with that? Why not just be explicit?

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Because they -- the Supreme Court, they're -- court of appeals, they want to see a record, right? And I think, you know, with the -- with Judge Chutkan just kind of dismissing out of hand all criminal -- all conduct whatsoever, the president has no immunity for all criminal conduct -- for any criminal conduct. They've gone back and said, no, no, you need to go look at this and then come back to us based upon what we've said in this opinion, right?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And the other thing is, well, it's the right and rules governing when and how to appeal aren't set in stone or aren't entirely clear. And I think they felt some need to delineate that this is an appealable order. They aren't always and sometimes some things you have to wait to appeal until the end of a trial. They're giving whoever it is, and probably Trump,the opportunity to appeal during trial.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you, do you think that if Judge Chutkan had ruled differently initially and said it basically closer to this, the conversations with the Justice Department are clearly official acts, I'm not going to count them, but the other ones, like if there had been a less of a sweeping, of course, he can be indicted on any of this stuff ruling by Judge Chutkan, would this not have been ended up where it was today? Did she open the door for a decision like this?

HONIG: She did. I think Judge Chutkan's going to have a lot of regret. When she issued her opinion, it just said there's no such thing as automatic immunity for everything a president does his whole four years. When I was reading that, I said, OK, where's part B? I expected part B to be, and I find, having reviewed the record and reviewed the documents, and I find that even if there is such thing as immunity, he was outside the scope.

And by the way, that's what the court of appeals did on their ruling. The problem is, as Jim was saying, the court of appeals and the Supreme Court, they're not fact-finders. This can only be done at the district court level. And so, I suspect Judge Chutkan is feeling some regret. It wasn't like it was some leap of logic that she should do that, this happens.

There are hearings, for example, in the Georgia case, Mark Meadows is trying to get his case moved over to federal court. The question there is almost the same thing. Was Mark Meadows in or out of the scope? You know what the federal judge did there in Georgia? He held a hearing. Mark Meadows testified. He said, I find, based on this hearing, you're outside the scope. If Judge Chutkan had done that, we'd be in a very different position.

WILLIAMS: Where I don't agree with that, though, is that either of the parties would have had an opportunity to appeal the portion of that opinion that they did not agree with, because it would have been somewhat of a split the baby gobbledygook that they would have had a right to appeal. You can't tell me that either Jack Smith or Trump's team would not have attempted to take it up and the Supreme Court would have created similar gobbledygooks as they have today.

HONIG: But we would have had an answer right now.


HONIG: If she'd already done the hearing, we'd know right now.

WILLIAMS: They would have gone up to the Supreme Court though. And I think --

TAPPER: We'll never know. This is unearthed too. All I can tell you is, having been covering the U.S. Supreme Court and -- you know, and they're -- just to go back to Bush v. Gore.



TAPPER: The reason that the conservative court in Bush v. Gore was able to do what they did is because the Florida Supreme Court let them. The Florida Supreme Court made so many bad decisions and bad rulings, it was easy for the U.S. Supreme Court to come in and say, no, no, no, no, stop the count.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I -- what's interesting here, and there's a great line, I'm skimming it very quickly, in Justice Sotomayor's dissent, where she says, you know, the majority pays lip service to this idea that the president is not above the law, and then, in effect says that for certain official acts, the president is, in fact, above the law. It's how do you sort out what this actually means?

TAPPER: Well, let's do that right now because in the oral arguments, there were certain examples that were given. Let's explore a couple of those and what today's decision means. First one was raised by Justice Sonia Sotomayor back in -- what this April? What about getting SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival? Let's roll that tape.


SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: 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?

JOHN SAUER, DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: It would depend on the hypothetical, but we can see that could well be an official act.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: That was a stunning moment in April. Did the court just say, yes, you can assassinate a political rival?

HONIG: No, I don't think they did. That's a ridiculous answer by Donald Trump's team. A dangerous and reckless answer. One really important thing. The basis for Donald Trump's legal argument that maybe he can order an assassination and still be OK is this preposterous argument that they offered below that while a president can only be indicted if he's first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, the Supreme Court explicitly rejected that argument.


HONIG: They said, impeachment has nothing to do with this. It's -- that's not the test.

WILLIAMS: To your question, Jake, someone's got to decide what's the official act, right?

TAPPER: Right.

WILLIAMS: The challenge here -- and this was what Sotomayor was getting at in her point, somebody has to make the call as to whether even the SEAL -- the preposterous SEAL Team Six example falls under the ambit of official acts, and that's litigation in months in court.

SCHULTZ: No, agreed. I think that's something that will have to be decided by the trial court if we were faced with that preposterous type of scenario. No doubt about it.

TAPPER: Yes. Jamie.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I just have a quick question for the lawyer. So, one of the big concerns is getting evidence out in front of voters before November. We now don't think a trial --

TAPPER: We're not going to get.

GANGEL: -- is possible.


GANGEL: Is it possible, one lawyer just texted, would an evidentiary hearing be a way for Jack Smith to get some of that evidence out there in the public record?

HONIG: Sure. So, the judge -- district judge, now has to have an evidentiary hearing. She can absolutely do that before the election. She can hear from witnesses. We're not going to get a verdict. I guess the judge will say some things were official or unofficial, but there's not going to be a convicted felon tag hung on Donald Trump for this case.

I also should add, this is a major problem for the Georgia case because the factual allegations are very similar for Fani Willis' case. Now, that case is beset by its own series of problems, but now, they're going to have to contend with this immunity problem as well.

TAPPER: So, listen to this, because obviously there is a crisis of confidence in the U.S. Supreme Court, among many other institutions in America. And I want to just read from -- something from Judge -- Justice Sotomayor's dissent on some of these issues that we're talking about. Let the president violate the law, she writes in her dissent. Let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain. Let him use his official power for evil ends. Because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be.

That is the majority's message today. Orders the Navy SEAL Team Six 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. That is the majority's message today from Sonia Sotomayor.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I mean, it's a remarkable and very stark way to think about it. And you mentioned the crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court, our varying institutions. I just -- I can't help but think while, on the one hand, yes, this is a decision that's going to affect presidents far into our future, you can't pull it apart from the immediate political context in which we are living and note that in, you know, a 5-4 decision like this, split along ideological lines like this, is going to --

TAPPER: 5-4 or 6 3?

HUNT: Excuse me, I may have misspoken. It may have been 6-3, my fault. But still, along ideological lines, I should say, right, is how this broke down.

TAPPER: Yes, yes, yes. No, it's just, the courts shifted.

HUNT: Right. You're absolutely right. But, it just -- I think that in the closely divided times in which we live, this is going to be viewed as much more of an inflammatory situation than perhaps it is when you consider that it, yes, of course, it's writing history books as well.


TAPPER: And, John, I mean, just to underline the point here, Justice Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, could have tried to do something different behind the scenes. We have no idea. But this certainly is not just perceived as a gift to Donald Trump, it is a gift to Donald Trump. Yes, they rejected the, we have immunity for everything we do argument, but they could have settled arguments that they ultimately are going to arbitrate one way or the other, assuming, well, it might not if Donald Trump wins in November and then just completely gets rid of this case.

But theoretically as we've discussed, this goes back to Chutkan's court, et cetera, et cetera, it's going to go back. They have opinions in their brains about what's official and what's not official. They could have said, and here's what's official, here's not official, they could have settled the matter. They did not. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They have repeatedly picked delay over decisiveness in cases involving Donald Trump. They have repeatedly sent it back and said, you know, sort this out. They have repeatedly essentially, you know, refused to speed things up.

TAPPER: But this isn't just sorted out, it's sorted out and then if we disagree with you, maybe we'll disagree with you.

KING: A bit of personal karma here. I was covering the Bush White House when they elevated John Roberts to chief justice. One of the reasons they did it was because Bush and Cheney, especially, felt so powerful about executive power. And they knew Roberts view on executive power. It's one of the reasons they liked him on the bench. They're not fans of Donald Trump. Donald Trump wins in this decision today because of John Roberts is the chief justice back from the Bush days.

But to Jamie's point, here's where we just get into this horrible place we are as a country. In my travels, there are a lot of voters who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, voted for Biden in 2020 are completely tormented about what to do, Republicans in 2024, because they're Republicans. They don't want to vote to re-elect a Democratic president. They don't like Joe Biden's policies. Some of them are wrestling with this January 6th question. Can I forgive him? Did he learn any lessons?

So, yes, there would be immense value in airing all this out in a courtroom so that voters could listen to Mark Meadows, listen to Mike Pence, listen to people around Donald Trump, which then, you know, puts a stark contrast on Donald Trump's argument that this is all people out to get me, right? No, these are loyal people who worked for him.

In every single one of these cases, the most damning evidence comes from people on the right hand of Donald Trump, people Velcroed to Donald Trump, people loyal to Donald Trump. That would help the American people make the decision. However, that's not Jack Smith's job.

TAPPER: Right.

KING: Jack Smith's job is to prosecute a case. It's not to think about the calendar, it's not to think about the voters. It's to prosecute the case. And so, anything that happens now, Trump will be able -- if Jack Smith demands a hearing. Can Jack Smith -- for example, could he sever his case? Could he just prosecute the Rudy Giuliani fake elector part, which is clearly outside of official act? Could he move to sever his case? You know, he'd have a stronger case. He might get to trial before the election and Trump would say, there they go again.

WILLIAMS: To your -- to the specific evidence point that you raise and how it ties into the politics, one thing that the court explicitly did today was say that even evidence of this protected conduct cannot be used in a trial. And so, even -- and this is the part that Amy Coney Barrett even says, no, no, no, wait a second. You know, you all have gone really far here.

So, even these official acts can't even be talked about or used as evidence in court for this unofficial conduct. It's a really sweeping thing that they didn't even have all the conservatives on.

TAPPER: And, Jim they didn't provide the guardrails you were hoping for though, by the way.

SCHULTZ: They didn't provide the guardrails that I that the -- where I think the American people would've said, OK --

TAPPER: I can trust. I can trust.

SCHULTZ: I could kind of trust how this goes. I'm not sure that they put the guardrails around that. Now -- but they did put -- send it back to the trial court, and we have to trust the court system is going to work in such a way, OK, this is official act. This is an unofficial act. Unofficial acts, you're going to -- you could be charged criminally for sure. I do think you put this whole cliche case --

WILLIAMS: The biggest Supreme Court cases in our -- perhaps Bush v. Gore and this were both decided on pretty strict partisan splits. And I just think, to the point of, does the public have faith in this institution, I think it's things like this that cast some doubt on it.

TAPPER: I'm going to give you all a little bit more time to read the opinion and decision. I'm going to send it back to, to Kaitlan outside the court.

Kaitlan, it doesn't look like there are many crowds protesting one way or the other though.

COLLINS: No, Jake, and there weren't crowds really here when they made the arguments back in April. It was actually kind of surprising there weren't more people outside the Supreme Court. I drove by it on our way to where we are right now. Obviously, it's a little bit behind us. And there were maybe a few dozen people there, but not anything like what we've seen on other major decision days from the Supreme Court.

We are hearing from Donald Trump, responding in all caps to this decision, calling it a great day for the constitution and for democracy, and saying that he is proud to be an American, with an exclamation point. Not a surprise there, as this is being viewed inside Trump's team, his legal team certainly, as a win for them.


And, Paula, a big part of that, and an interesting part of this, is about Jeff Clark. Now, he is, of course, someone that Trump sought to install as the acting attorney general in the final days of his administration. Someone who is a loyalist, who wanted to do his bidding when it came to trying to overturn the election. And what the Supreme Court is finding here is that Trump's dealings with the Justice Department, a president's dealings with the DOJ are immune from prosecution. That is going to be quite something because that means that a central part of this is not going to be something that they could argue about.

And the other part of this is the prosecutors argued, OK, even if official acts are protected, we can still make arguments about those to say that unofficial acts when we have these charges to establish that. Chief Justice John Roberts is saying, no, that that would defeat the point of having immunity for those official acts, that they can't use evidence from official acts to bring charges related to what they believe are unofficial acts here.

REID: And this is huge. And this is what could potentially put the entire case into peril. And speaking with sources familiar with the Trump legal team thinking, right, they're just reading this as we are right now, they believe that because a lot of the communications that he would have had, for example, with Vice President Mike Pence or the Justice Department officials, if those are official acts, they would try to get those excluded going forward, which would take away a lot of the key evidence that Jack Smith would need to prove what's left of his case. So, there is some glimmering hope in the Trump world that this decision could, in the end, gut the entire case.

COLLINS: So, even if Jack Smith can still bring it, that, you know, if there's a jury sitting here in Washington listening to him, he can't argue about, well, Trump tried to put a loyalist in charge at the DOJ to do this. When it came to the State of Georgia and when it came to arguing that there was fraud here, they won't be able to make that argument to the jury based on what were -- our initial reading of this finding.

REID: So, they could try to make the argument, but they're not going to have the evidence they need to support it because a lot of these communications --

COLLINS: That's huge.

REID: It's massive. And that's why there is so much celebration right now in Trump world with the lawyers on his team calling this a major victory. Now, this still has to be litigated. This has to go through evidence hearings. There have to be more proceedings to answer these questions with finality, but the way they're reading this, the reason they think it's a major victory is not only because they're recognizing some immunity, but more so because of what it does to some of the key evidence that Jack Smith would likely need to successfully bring this case.

HOLMES: Well, it also raises the questions, right, of what is an official act, which I think that we've said over and over again, is like, sure, that is huge, but they're also going to have to litigate it. And all of that is going to take an enormous amount of time because Donald Trump's team is going to bring this forward. They believe this to be the case. That is why you're seeing them say they have a glimmer of hope that this could be completely gone.

But the other part of this is that all of this is going to be processed through, and that's going to take time. And again, remember at the end of the day, Donald Trump says this stuff, oh, it's a big win for democracy. Well, it's a big win because it's win for him. He obviously wouldn't think it was a big win for democracy if he didn't feel confident at the end of the day that this was going to help him in some way.

COLLINS: Right. If it wasn't in his favor.

HOLMES: Right, exactly. If this wasn't going to help him legally, it wouldn't be a big win for democracy. We would likely be hearing him rag on some of the Supreme Court justices and calling the system rigged and unfair.

But instead, they believe that this is going to help him in the long run, whether it's as big as getting the case completely thrown out or even if it's just moving the goalposts here to being a trial post- election, either way, they are looking at this as celebratory.

COLLINS: Well, and, Paula, it's interesting because speaking to people who are in top attorney positions, legal positions in the Trump administration, they were worried that Trump pushing this argument that it would limit the power of the presidency in a way that we had never seen defined before.

But obviously, what the liberal justices are arguing in their dissent is actually this is giving them carte blanche when it comes to real examples that they argued about during these hearings, which was, if a president says, OK, give me a million dollars and I'll pardon you and, you know, I'll pardon you for also bribing me, that that would be OK is what the justices are-- the liberal justices are concerned about here and their dissent. And what this means for reshaping the presidency in a different way than what conservatives feared.

REID: Yes, I want to lay out exactly what Justice Sotomayor said in her dissent and why I don't think it actually reflects, what Chief Justice Roberts wrote in this opinion, because she's, of course, saying the president of the United States is the most powerful person in the country. When he uses his official power in any way, this is what Sotomayor wrote, under the majority's reasoning, he would now be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders Navy SEAL Team Six 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.

But if you look at what Chief Justice Roberts wrote here, he's talking about, with respect to the president's exercise of his core constitutional powers, there is absolute immunity. And for remaining official actions, he is entitled to immunity, but they fall short of actually deciding exactly how far that goes. I don't think anyone's going to argue that -- I don't think they're successfully going to argue that assassinating a political rival is part of your core constitutional powers.

So, I see what they're saying in the dissent. But I think someone could also successfully argue that is not what the chief justice is saying here. He's drawing a line around the core constitutional powers for the presidency, saying those actions are immune. That is absolute. [11:00:00]