Serious Trouble
Serious Trouble
Immune Response

Immune Response

A DC Circuit panel rejects Trump's immunity arguments, but SCOTUS looms; Taylor Swift's lawyers threaten a college student who tracks her private plane; Senate Twink beats the rap

Dear readers,

A little less than a month after hearing oral arguments, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected Donald Trump’s argument that he is immune from being prosecuted for acts within the “outer perimeter” of his presidential duties. That should clear the way for Judge Tanya Chutkan to again move toward the start of a criminal trial, unless the Supreme Court decides it wants to consider the case. Ken and I talk about the judges’ reasoning, and some reasons the Supreme Court might decide to sit this one out. And we talk through the calendar: when Chutkan could realistically proceed toward trial under various scenarios.

In Georgia, Fani Willis has responded to a motion from RICO defendant Mike Roman asking for her and her office’s removal from this large, sprawling case on conflict-of-interest grounds. In a response, Willis admits she “developed a personal relationship” with Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor handling the case, but she says she did so after she had already hired him. She also says, under Georgia law, there can’t be a conflict of interest here because neither she nor Wade has a financial interest in the outcome of the case, though Roman rightly notes at least Wade has a financial interest in the process — an unduly complex and prolonged approach to the prosecution (which we frankly think Willis has taken) means more hours and more billings from him. Roman’s attorney says an evidentiary hearing is needed to address questions like when the “personal relationship” actually started. Now Judge Scott McAfee must decide whether he needs to review evidence — or if he can let Willis proceed without considering those factual questions.

Meanwhile, in Taylor Swift news: Back in December, Swift’s attorneys at Venable LLP sent a threatening letter to Jack Sweeney, a junior at the University of Central Florida, accusing him of “stalking and harassing behavior” on the grounds that he runs a social media account that tracks the location of her private jet. Sweeney already got banned from Twitter for tracking Elon Musk’s jet. Obviously, people may not like their locations being disclosed, but as Ken notes, “doxxing” is not really a meaningful legal concept, and you generally have a First Amendment right to reveal whatever you can glean about people’s whereabouts from publicly available information — especially when you may be commenting on a matter of political concern, like carbon emissions.

Jack Burkman (whom you may not remember as Jacob Wohl’s very stupid sidekick) is giving up his law license, but at least he can’t lose his dignity.

At least the Senate Twink has had a good week. The Capitol Police announced they weren’t able to identify any specific law that a Senate employee violates if he is videotaped getting porked in a vacant hearing room, so they won’t investigate the Hart Room 216 Sex Tape Incident any further, and there won’t be charges against him or anyone else. More surprisingly, they also announced that the Twink exercised his Fifth Amendment right not to talk to them, which means he has better judgment than about half the people we cover on this show.

We hope you enjoy the episode,


Click here for a transcript of this episode.

Serious Trouble
Serious Trouble
An irreverent podcast about the law from Josh Barro and Ken White.
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Josh Barro
Ken White