Ex-FBI Agent Rebukes Supreme Court Immunity Ruling: ‘Look Back in History’

Former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi on Saturday rebuked the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent presidential immunity ruling as he warned to “look back in history” for how the decision may impact the country.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 6-3 majority ruling on Monday that former President Donald Trump is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his “official acts” carried out in office in a ruling connected to his federal 2020 election interference case.

In August 2023, Trump was indicted on four counts by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) special counsel Jack Smith for allegedly working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the runup to the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has repeatedly said they are part of a political witch hunt.

In appearance on MSNBC’s The Weekend on Saturday, Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, spoke about the dangers of the ruling as he was asked by co-host Alicia Menendez, “If the president is now above the law, what does that mean for law enforcement agencies in this country, including the FBI?”

“I think we have to look at the intelligence community and federal law enforcement and here is why. Samuel Alito has responded to the dissenters in this position and saying, ‘Oh come on, you guys are bringing up extreme hypotheticals,’ is what he called them as if we will have a good man in place who will always do the right thing despite having the presumption of immunity. Well, guess what? It is not extreme because all we have to do is look back in history,” Figliuzzi, a national security analyst, responded.

However, Figiluzzi misspoke as Roberts is the one who responded to the dissenting opinion.

He added: “To the early and mid-1970s when the American people began to find out that their FBI, their DOJ, their CIA were spying unlawfully without court authorization on American people. And who were those American people? Anybody J. Edgar Hoover and the administration felt was a threat.”

According to National Security Archive (DNSA), a nonprofit research and archival institution located Washington, D.C., revelations in the early 1970s about the FBI spying on innocent Americans led to investigations around the misuse of the agency and other parts of the executive branch under then-President Richard Nixon. Led by Senator Frank Church, Congress thoroughly investigated the allegations of FBI abuses and made recommendations to prevent further ones.

The “Huston Plan,” prepared by representatives of the White House and the U.S. intelligence community, proposed activities that ranged from monitoring domestic dissident groups—notably the Black Panthers—to office break-ins and played a part in Nixon’s impeachment, the DNSA states on its website.

Also in the 1970s, a presidential commission report on the CIA’s domestic activities showed serious violations of criminal law and congressional authority in the agency’s use of bugs, break-ins and wiretaps, the interception of mail and telephone communications, secret experiments with drugs—and an ominous array of projects that fished for and filed away information on law-abiding U.S. citizens, according to the DNSA.

On Saturday, Figliuzzi warned against the Court’s immunity ruling, noting previous speculation that Trump may want retribution against his political enemies if he wins reelection.

“This is what happens when the executive branch literally has no rules they need to follow and, I am telling you, we will see it again because Trump has said he will seek revenge on those he deems a threat,” Figliuzzi said.

While it’s unclear what Trump plans to do if he wins in November, he has continuously noted his criticism of the DOJ amid his ongoing legal woes. However, when he was asked if he would use the DOJ to go after his political opponents, Trump told Fox News’ Fox & Friends in an interview last month, “I’m not sure I can answer the question.”

However, weeks later at the CNN presidential debate in Atlanta, the former president told the American public, “I said my retribution is going to be success. We’re going to make this country successful again, because right now it’s a failing nation.”

Steve Bannon, a Trump ally, added: “What we’re saying is we want justice. We want them to have full investigations, and then if criminal charges come up, then criminal charges come up.”

Supreme Court Building
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen on Monday in Washington, D.C. Former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi on Saturday rebuked the Court’s recent presidential immunity ruling as he warned to “look back in history” for how…

Drew ANGERER / AFP/Getty Images

Figliuzzi’s comments come after the Court’s three liberal justices dissented, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing that the “president is not a king above the law.”

She wrote: “Let the President violate the law, 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.”

She continued: “Even if these nightmare scenarios never play out, and I pray they never do, the damage has been done. The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.”

However, Roberts responded to the dissent, saying it was in “a tone of chilling doom that is wholly disproportionate to what the Court actually does today.”

This is not the first time a former member of a law enforcement agency has issued a warning to the country over the Court’s presidential immunity ruling.

John Brennan, who served as CIA director under former President Barack Obama, called the decision on Thursday “breathtaking” and said it has “dangerous implications for our nation’s future.”

“By rewriting the rule that has governed presidential authority for the past 235 years — that no one, not even a president, is above the law — the court has given a green light to any future president inclined to wield his or her executive authority irrespective of the laws that apply to all other citizens and residents of the U.S. King George III would be pleased,” he wrote in an opinion column for MSNBC.

The former CIA chief added that the six Supreme Court judges who had been in favor of the ruling showed “abject ignorance and apparent indifference.”

Brennan said he is worried if “an unprincipled and politically corrupt individual” is elected to the White House, it could have “deeply disturbing practical consequences.”