Aleksei A. Navalny, an anticorruption activist who for more than a decade led the political opposition in President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia while enduring arrests, assaults and a near-fatal poisoning, died Friday in a Russian prison, according to Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service. He was 47.
The prison authorities said that Mr. Navalny lost consciousness on Friday after taking a walk in the Arctic penal colony where he was moved late last year. He was last seen on Thursday, when he had appeared in a court hearing via video link, smiling behind the bars of a cell and making jokes.
That’s a suspiciously sudden turn.
Eight years ago, just before the Iowa caucuses, Donald J. Trump crowed about his invulnerability.
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said. “It’s, like, incredible.”
On Tuesday, at a federal appeals court argument held the week before this year’s caucuses, a lawyer for Mr. Trump said that the Constitution basically states the same thing.
It took a few questions from Judge Florence Y. Pan to pin down the lawyer, D. John Sauer. But in the end he made the jaw-dropping claim that former presidents are absolutely immune from prosecution even for murders they ordered while in office.
“I asked you a yes-or-no question,” Judge Pan said. “Could a president who ordered SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival, who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?”
Mr. Sauer said his answer was a “qualified yes,” by which he meant no. He explained that prosecution would only be permitted if the president were first impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate.
Trump’s argument is that the president could order a rival’s murder and the only possibility of accountability is political process of impeachment.
That seems suspiciously close to Navalny’s downfall.