Judicial Skepticism Regarding Trump’s Claim of Immunity in the Election Subversion Case

Raushan
President Donald Trump looks on during a campaign event on December 19 in Waterloo, Iowa. In the classified documents case, his lawyers are asking the judge to grant them access to the documents that special counsel Jack Smith wants to redact. © Getty Images

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9: The U.S. A Washington appeals court questioned Donald Trump’s assertions that he is immune from criminal prosecution for attempting to reverse the 2020 election, as the former US president warned Joe Biden on Tuesday that if he returns to the White House, he will be prosecuted.

Trump stood by as his legal team attempted to persuade a panel of three justices that previous presidents should not face prosecution for actions taken while in office. In March, Trump is scheduled to stand trial on federal allegations of election tampering.

The judges met that argument with skepticism.

“You’re saying a president could sell pardons, could sell military secrets, and could tell SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival?” Judge Florence Pan questioned D. John Sauer, Trump’s lawyer.

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Sauer states that the House of Representatives must impeach a former president and the Senate must convict them before they can be charged with such behavior.

Trump did not address the court or the journalists gathered outside the courthouse. During the hearing, he did, however, speak discreetly with his attorneys many times.

With the Republican presidential nominating race set to begin next week, Trump used the session to imply he is the victim of political persecution.

In a video released prior to the hearing, Trump stated that if he wins the presidential election in November, he plans to prosecute Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.

“If I don’t get immunity, then crooked Joe Biden doesn’t get immunity,” Trump said. “Joe would be ripe for indictment.”

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Since March, when the first criminal allegation was brought against him, Trump, who lost to Biden in the 2020 election, has taken a commanding lead over his competitors for the Republican presidential nomination. Predictions indicate that he will handily win the Iowa race on Monday.

PANDORA’S BOX

Traditionally, the United States Justice Department has held the belief that presidents cannot be charged for carrying out their official duties while in office. Trump, the first former president of the United States to face criminal charges, is facing 91 felony counts in four distinct cases

Trump’s lawyer, Bruce Sauer, told a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that permitting the prosecution to proceed would create a cycle of retribution after each election and “open a Pandora’s Box from which that nation may never recover.”

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According to him, a president must first be impeached and removed from office by Congress before being charged. Trump was impeached twice, but neither time did the Senate find him guilty.

After impeaching him for attempting to overturn the 2020 election, some Republican senators refused to convict him, citing the possibility of holding him accountable in court.

Prosecutors in the United States believe that when Trump urged officials to overturn the election results and pushed supporters to march to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, he was behaving as a candidate, not a president.

‘NOT BEYOND THE LAW’

According to Justice Department lawyer James Pearce, the case against Trump underscores the extraordinary nature of his efforts to reverse the 2020 election, and awarding him immunity for those activities would give future presidents authority to commit crimes.

“The president has a unique constitutional role, but he is not above the law,” he told reporters.

The legal outcome and timeliness of the appeals court’s decision will be critical in determining whether Trump faces trial before the Nov. 5, 2024, election.

Smith has accused Trump of a multi-pronged plot to obstruct the counting and certification of his 2020 defeat, culminating in the January 6 attack. Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges including obstructing Congress and cheating the country.

The case is one of four criminal prosecutions Trump faces this year as he campaigns for re-election to the presidency.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan previously denied Trump’s immunity claim. However, the appeal process could take several weeks or months.

The United States Supreme Court declined Smith’s request to hear the case promptly last month, so any decision by the appeals court would almost certainly be appealed to it.

Meanwhile, pausing all activity in the case may potentially delay the trial’s scheduled start date of March 4.

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By Raushan
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A Software engineer by profession, cook and blogger by passion
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