Former Ambassador Nikki Haley responded to a Trump attorney’s defense of his immunity from legal charges as president as “ridiculous” during the last GOP presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses.
“Do you agree with the argument Donald Trump’s lawyer made in court that a president should have immunity for any conduct, including in ordering the assassination of a political rival unless that president is impeached and convicted by the Senate for that offense first?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Haley during a debate on Wednesday night.
“No, that’s ridiculous,” Haley responded. “That’s absolutely ridiculous. I mean, we need to use some common sense here. You can’t go and kill a political rival and then claim, you know, immunity from a president. I think we have to start doing things that are right and you know Ron said we should have leaders that we can look up to. Well, then stop lying, because nobody’s going to want to look up to you if you’re lying.“
Haley continued, “But what I do think we need to look at is what has President Trump done? You look at the last few years and our country is completely divided. It’s divided over extremes. It’s divided over hatred. It’s divided over the fact that people think that if someone doesn’t agree with you that they’re bad. And now we have leaders in our country that decide who’s good and who’s bad, who’s right, and who’s wrong, that’s not what a leader does. What a leader does is they bring out the best in people and get them to see the way forward.“
The question from Tapper to Haley was in reference to a comment from Trump lawyer D. John Sauer this week in a Washington D.C. courtroom where he answered with a “qualified yes” when asked if Trump’s immunity from prosecution as president would apply if Trump “ordered S.E.A.L. Team 6 to assassinate a political rival.”
“He would have to be impeached and convicted,” Sauer argued.
Sauer said, “There’s a political process that would have to occur under the structure of our Constitution which would require conviction and impeachment by the Senate in these exceptional cases, as the OLC memo itself points out from the Department of Justice you’d expect a speedy impeachment and conviction.”
Sauer argued before a federal appeals court Tuesday that the president has “absolute immunity,” even after leaving office — an argument that the judges appeared to be skeptical of.
Judge Karen Henderson, an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush, fired back, saying: “I think it’s paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal law.”
But Sauer argued that Biden, “the current incumbent of the presidency is prosecuting his number one political opponent and his greatest electoral threat.”
Meanwhile, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team argued that presidents are not entitled to absolute immunity and that Trump’s alleged actions following the November 2020 election fall outside a president’s official job duties.
“The president has a unique constitutional role but he is not above the law. Separation of powers principles, constitutional text, history, precedent and immunity doctrines all point to the conclusion that a former president enjoys no immunity from prosecution,” prosecutor James Pearce said, adding that a case in which a former president is alleged to have sought to overturn an election “is not the place to recognize some novel form of immunity.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the Trump campaign for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman contributed to this report
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