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The judge overseeing the federal election conspiracy case involving Donald Trump in Washington DC has denied a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds of presidential immunity.
Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the trial, stated that the ex-president’s tenure in office does not grant him immunity from criminal responsibility, as if he were a monarch with divine authority.
A highly anticipated decision from a federal appeals court has concluded that Mr. Trump can be held accountable in civil court for instigating the violent riots at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 following his defeat in the 2020 election.
Attorneys representing Mr. Trump had attempted to employ his presidential “immunity” as protection against the legal proceedings.
Judge Chutkan stated on Friday that the defendant’s term as Commander in Chief did not give him the power to escape criminal responsibility like a king.
This sets the stage for a legal battle regarding the extent of presidential authority, which may ultimately be brought before the US Supreme Court.
Donald Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing in the case, is anticipated to promptly file an appeal in order to challenge what his attorneys have described as an uncertain legal matter.
On Friday evening, the attorney representing the ex-president chose not to respond to the ruling, according to a report from the Associated Press.
According to the ruling, Judge Chutkan stated that being the president does not grant a permanent exemption from punishment.
“Ex-presidents do not receive any exemptions for federal criminal responsibility. Individuals who are accused may face a federal inquiry, charges, trial, guilty verdict, and penalty for any illegal actions committed during their term,” she stated.
“The requested immunity that the Defendant is seeking would go against established legal precedent that holds all government officials, even those protected from civil lawsuits, accountable for criminal charges.”
The decision, consisting of 48 pages, also acknowledged the effort made by Trump’s attorneys to have the case dismissed on the grounds of a violation of his First Amendment rights.
The ruling stated that the First Amendment does not protect speech used to commit a crime. Therefore, the Indictment, which accuses the Defendant of making statements to further a crime, does not violate their First Amendment rights.
The Indictment cannot be considered unconstitutional just because the Defendant’s actions involved speech.
On Friday, a court of appeals in Washington DC ruled that Mr Trump can face a lawsuit for instigating the riot at the Capitol.
The court of appeals was tasked with deciding if Mr. Trump is entitled to immunity for his actions on and leading up to January 6, as stated in the complaints.
“At this point in the proceedings, we decline to provide an answer,” stated the ruling.
The court’s decision states that presidents are usually exempt from legal action for their actions while carrying out their duties. However, the court clarifies that seeking reelection is not considered part of fulfilling those duties.
According to the court, when a President decides to run for a second term, their efforts to be re-elected are not considered an official duty of the presidency. The institution of the Presidency does not have a preference for who will hold the position in the future. Additionally, campaigning to obtain the role of President is not considered an official responsibility of the office.
The highest court in the US has ruled that presidents cannot be held accountable for civil charges regarding their official responsibilities. However, the court has not yet addressed whether this immunity also applies to criminal charges. The special counsel for the investigation, led by Jack Smith, has stated that there is no evidence in the Constitution or past court decisions to suggest that a former president cannot face criminal charges for actions taken during their time in office.
The accused individual is not exempt from the law. They are bound by the federal criminal laws, just like over 330 million other American citizens, including Congress members, federal judges, and ordinary individuals, state prosecutors in legal documents.