The Washington DC Court of Appeals ruled this Tuesday that former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) does not have presidential immunity from prosecution for his attempt to reverse his 2020 electoral defeat and instigate the assault on the Capitol.

“For the purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump has become a Trump citizen, with all the defenses of any other criminal defendant,” the Court notes. And, therefore, “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution,” the court writes.

The ruling is a blow to Trump’s defense, which argued that the conduct alleged by special counsel Jack Smith was part of his official duties as president and, therefore, exempted him from criminal responsibility.

Presumably the New York tycoon’s defense will appeal the ruling to elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

The weapon of Trump’s lawyers

The argument of presidential immunity has become a recurring weapon for Trump’s lawyers, who seek to delay the judicial calendar as much as possible to avoid it coinciding with the November presidential election race, in which he starts as the great favorite for the Republican nomination.

This Tuesday’s judicial decision comes after Trump asked the appeals court on December 24 to annul the decision of a lower court judge who at the time rejected the immunity claims put forward by his team of lawyers. In the brief to the appeals court, Trump’s legal team pointed out that the impeachment is unconstitutional because presidents cannot be criminally prosecuted unless they are first convicted by the Senate.

“Under our system of separation of powers, the judiciary cannot judge the official acts of a president,” said Trump’s lawyers, who alleged that on the day of the events the former president was fulfilling his “official duties” and monitoring the integrity of the 2020 elections.

On February 2, federal judge Tanya Chutkan of Washington, who is handling the case of the assault on the Capitol, postponed the start date of the trial, which was to start on March 4, pending the resolution announced this Tuesday.

Four cases

The one in Washington is one of four criminal charges against Trump in various courts. The Republican magnate is charged in a Georgia state court with allegedly leading a mafia plot to alter the election results in the state, where he lost against the current president, Joe Biden.

In New York he has been charged with alleged irregular payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels, with whom he had an “affair” in the past, to buy her silence during the 2016 election campaign.

While in Florida he is accused of illegally removing and keeping in his mansion in Mar-a-Lago (Florida) classified documents that he removed from the White House after leaving power.

This will be a key week for Trump since the Supreme Court will study on February 8 whether the 14th Amendment of the Constitution disqualifies the former president from participating in the elections given that several states accuse him of having led an “insurrection” in 2021.

The former president is expected to appeal the ruling, meaning the case could ultimately reach the Supreme Court, where the conservatives have a majority.


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