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Appeals Court rejects Donald Trump's request for criminal immunity

Appeals Court rejects Donald Trump's request for criminal immunity

He expressed his hope to get out of it by seeking presidential immunity. A federal appeals court dealt Donald Trump a major setback on Tuesday by unanimously declaring that the former president could indeed be tried on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 electoral vote, won by Democrat Joe Biden, during an attempted insurrection that began. Against the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Thus, the three Washington court judges confirmed the decision that ruled, in the lower court last December, that the populist is not immune from criminal prosecution for actions that, according to him, fall within his duties as president.

In the minutes following the revelation of this decision, the former president indicated through his spokesman his intention to take his case to the Supreme Court to obtain reconsideration. Conservatives have an overwhelming 6-3 majority on the nation's highest court.

“If immunity is not granted to a president, any president who leaves office will be immediately prosecuted by the opposing party,” the populist shouted in capital letters Monday evening on his social network. Without full immunity, the President of the United States cannot properly perform his duties. »

Donald Trump was criminally charged by Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith with conspiring to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 victory on January 6, 2021, and committing fraud in an attempt to remain in power against the will of the ballot box.

in A 57-page documentThe District of Columbia Court of Appeals said it “balanced former President Trump's claimed interest in immunity with the vital public interest in the proceeding.” [judiciaire] Which must continue.” “For purposes of this criminal case, former President Trump has become a Trump citizen, with the same protections as any other defendant,” the justices added. Any executive immunity that might have protected him while he was a sitting president no longer protects him from These prosecutions.”

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The court challenges Trump's notion that “the president has unlimited power to commit crimes that would negate the most basic control of executive power: recognizing and enforcing election results.” “We also cannot agree with his assertion that the executive branch has carte blanche to violate citizens’ voting rights,” the justices wrote in their decision.

“We cannot accept that the office of the presidency places its former occupants above the law forever. »

“Ridiculous” arguments.

During the hearing, a group of lawyers, many of whom served under Republican governments, called the arguments made by the former president's lawyers “ridiculous.” “I think it is ironic to say that his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed allows him to violate criminal laws,” former federal appeals court judge Karen L. declared in early January. Henderson.

Justice Department lawyer James Pierce, for his part, said that the accusations against Donald Trump distinguish him from any other occupant of the White House. “There have never been allegations in the past that a sitting president, with the help of citizens and using the levers of power, sought to fundamentally overthrow the democratic republic and the electoral system,” he added.

Facing 91 charges in four separate criminal cases, as Donald Trump leads the race for the Republican nomination ahead of the upcoming presidential election, he is increasing legal steps in order to delay the start of his several trials. This strategy bore fruit last week, with Judge Tanya Chutkan announcing on Friday that the start of the populist's trial on charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 elections would be postponed to a “later date,” pending justice's decision on the issue of immunity. The matter was scheduled for March 4, but may face a delay of several weeks or months, pending the Supreme Court's decision on this legal point.

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Donald Trump's lawyers are demanding “absolute immunity” for actions the populist took while in the White House, citing Supreme Court case law dating back to 1982 and in connection with civil actions brought against former President Richard Nixon, in the wake of Watergate and the downfall of this other Republican. .

The former president's defense team also believes that his client cannot be tried in this case since Congress acquitted him in the impeachment trial conducted against him after the attack on the Capitol building during which his supporters tried to prevent the certification of Joe Biden's victory. . Ironically, elected Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, then their Senate majority leader, justified Trump's acquittal by asserting that punishment for his actions should come from the criminal justice system and not from Congress. The vote was taken to remove him as soon as the populist left the White House, without conceding his opponent’s victory.

Donald Trump is also claiming immunity to avoid prosecution in Georgia, where the state's justice system is criminally accusing him of seeking to steal the 2020 election by, among other things, creating fake voters to fraudulently swipe the result in his favor.

With Agence France-Presse

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