Donald Trump sees his request for criminal immunity rejected by a federal appeals court

This is a setback for Donald Trump

Donald Trump sees his request for criminal immunity rejected by a federal appeals court

This is a setback for Donald Trump. The federal appeals court in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, February 6, rejected the former President of the United States' request for criminal immunity, reopening the way for his trial for attempting to illegally overturn the results of the the 2020 election. Mr. Trump will appeal the decision, announced his spokesperson, Steven Cheung.

The big favorite in the Republican primaries for the November presidential election is seeking through multiple appeals to postpone his various criminal trials as late as possible, at least after the election. During the debates before the court of appeal on January 9, he predicted “chaos in the country” if the American justice system did not drop the charges against him.

“We weighed former President Trump's claimed interest in immunity against the vital public interest in allowing this proceeding to continue,” explain the three judges of the court of appeal in their decision confirming that pronounced at first instance in December. “For the purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump has become Citizen Trump, with the same protections as any other defendant. But any executive immunity that might have protected him when he was a sitting president no longer protects him from these prosecutions,” they write.

No date for a resumption of procedural acts

The decision does not, however, include any mention of a resumption of the procedural acts in this case, suspended due to the appeal, and which led the judge who will preside over the proceedings to the trial, which was to take place from 4 March, to announce on Friday the postponement indefinitely.

Judge Tanya Chutkan added that “the court would decide on a new date” if, once the question of immunity was decided, the file returned to its hands. It was she who rejected his request for immunity in December, considering that no text protected a former president against criminal prosecution. Donald Trump's defense claimed "absolute immunity" for his actions committed while in the White House. She invoked Supreme Court case law from the 1980s concerning civil suits against former President Richard Nixon.

His lawyers also argued that he cannot be tried in this case because of his acquittal during the parliamentary impeachment proceedings against him for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, during which hundreds of his supporters attempted to prevent the certification of Joe Biden's victory.

In her decision, Judge Chutkan concluded that the Nixon precedent did not apply to criminal prosecutions, and that impeachment proceedings did not constitute a criminal trial. “Allowing a president to be prosecuted for his official actions would open a Pandora’s box from which this country may never recover,” Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Sauer, argued before the appeals court.

To one of the judges, Florence Y. Pan, who asked him whether sending special forces to assassinate a political opponent or sell presidential pardons fell under these official acts, the lawyer responded in the affirmative. “It would be paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to ensure faithful compliance with the laws authorizes him to violate criminal law,” retorted the President of the Court, Karen L. Henderson.

This case is one of four involving Donald Trump. He faces federal charges in Florida for illegally storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago property. He is also charged in state court in Georgia with attempted voter fraud in that state during the 2020 election and in New York in connection with secret payments made to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels. He denies any wrongdoing.